The Community Design protection system has steadily increased in popularity as a means of protecting designs. One Community Design application will provide, within a couple months, a design right that is valid in all EU member states at a relatively low cost. A Community Design is by nature indivisible, i.e. protection is granted and invalidated simultaneously in all member states.
The Community Design application is filed with the OHIM (Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market) in Spain. OHIM is the authority responsible for registering Community Designs and trademarks.
OHIM examines only certain portions of filed applications for formalities - novelty and individual character are not examined at all. This involves a registration that can be invalidated with an application filed with OHIM, in the event that registration does not fulfil the set requirements.
According to the Community Design regulation, both products and product components can be protected. A Community Design application may contain an unlimited number of designs, provided that these fall into the same main class of the Locarno Classification.
The period of protection offered by a Registered Community Design (RCD) is 25 years, within which registration is first valid for 5 years from the date of application and then must be renewed four times.
An Unregistered Community Design (UCD) that fulfils the requirements of novelty and individual character is eligible for protection from the date that the design has been published within the Community. Because the period of protection offered for a UCD is short (3 years) and the scope of protection is limited, it is recommended that you apply for a Registered Community Design (RCD) or national registration.
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