Intellectual property, new rules on industrial designs coming soon

Proprietà intellettuale

The European Commission has presented two proposals for the revision of the Regulation and the Industrial Designs Directive. An industrial design represents the external appearance of a product as it results from its lines or contours or form. The revised rules will help to further improve the conditions for companies to innovate. At the same time, the new rules will also introduce a more balanced approach to the protection of designs, ensuring that designs can be reproduced for spare parts, so as to offer consumers a wider choice for the repair of complex products, especially cars.

The two proposals will:

  • simplify and streamline the procedure for the registration of a design at EU level: the new rules make it easier to submit designs and models in an application for registration (for example by submitting video files) or combine several designs in a single application and reduce the fees payable for the first ten years of protection, thereby making the protection of registered Community designs more accessible, efficient and affordable, in particular for individual authors and SMEs;
  • harmonise procedures and ensure complementarity with national design systems: the new framework aims to ensure greater complementarity between EU and national design protection rules, for example with regards to the requirements for the registration of designs or the simplification of the rules for the declaration of invalidity of a registered design. This will help create a level playing field for businesses across Europe;
  • reproducing original designs and models for the purpose of repairing complex products: the new rules introduce a "repair clause" in the Design Directive at EU level, thereby helping to foster and increase competition in the spare parts market. This is a particularly important aspect in the car repair sector, where it should be legally possible in all EU countries to reproduce parts of the body in a restricted form ("must match") identical to the original ones for repair purposes to restore the initial appearance. The proposed "repair clause" should have immediate legal effects only for future designs, while those already protected should continue to benefit from such protection for a transitional period of 10 years.

The proposals will now have to be adopted by the European Parliament and the European Council, so the Member States will have to transpose them into their national legislation within two years; most of the amendments to the Community Design Regulation will become applicable shortly after its entry into force (3 months) while the remaining amendments will apply only after the necessary delegated and implementing acts have been adopted (18 months after entry into force).