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Brussels, 22nd October 2002

Industrial property: EU-wide registration of designs moves closer

The European Commission has adopted a Regulation to allow the EU's Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM), based in Alicante, to begin registering Community Designs in early 2003. The Commission's Regulation implements the Community Design Regulation adopted by the Council in December 2001 (see IP/01/1803) by giving the OHIM the administrative tools it needs to operate the necessary procedures, such as the registration and cancellation of designs and appeals, smoothly and efficiently. Community Design registration will offer companies EU-wide protection with a single application. Companies will nevertheless continue to have the option of registering designs under national law, as harmonised by Directive 98/71/EC, if they prefer.

Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein said "I am very pleased we have completed another practical step towards setting up a user-friendly system for registering Community Designs. We want to foster creativity and innovation by making it easier for businesses and individuals who come up with new designs to protect them throughout the Internal Market with a single application."

On 12 December 2001, the Council adopted its Regulation n° 6/2002, introducing a single Community system for the protection of designs. That Regulation set out a simple and inexpensive procedure for registering designs with the OHIM in Alicante. Those registering designs will be granted exclusive rights to use the design concerned and to prevent any third party from using it anywhere within the European Union for up to 25 years. The Council Regulation also provided that designs meeting the Regulation's requirements can also benefit from protection from deliberate copying even without prior registration with the Office (Unregistered Community Designs).

The implementing Regulation has now been formally adopted by the Commission, having received the endorsement of a committee of senior national officials on 13 June. Its provisions have been aligned as far as possible with the equivalent Commission Regulation on implementing the Community Trademark (2868/95 see IP/95/1448) so as to ensure that the registration procedures dealt with by the OHIM are as coherent and convenient as possible for future clients of the system.

The only remaining step before the OHIM can begin to register designs is the setting of fees. The Commission is already discussing its draft Regulation on this issue with the same committee of senior national officials as considered the procedures Regulation.

The date from which the OHIM will accept the first applications for registering Community Designs will be set in November 2002, at the next meeting of its Administrative Board.

It is expected that the OHIM will be in a position to receive the first pre-applications at the beginning of 2003, with the first official registrations taking effect from April 2003.

The full text of the Regulation can be found at: more details of the work of the OHIM, see:

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