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Brussels, 24 July 2007

Industrial property: Commission adopts necessary measures for linking EU design registration system with WIPO international system

The European Commission adopted two Regulations which are necessary to give effect to the accession of the European Community to the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement concerning the international registration of industrial designs. The adoption follows the Council's approval of the EC accession to the international design registration system of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) on 18 December 2006. The EC accession will allow EU companies, with a single application, to obtain protection of a design not only throughout the EU with the Community Design, but also in the countries which are members of the Geneva Act.

Internal Market and Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said: "The new legislation will make it possible for European business to safeguard their design rights globally with less bureaucracy and reduced costs. I expect that the new system can become operational in the EU by 1 January 2008."

The Community Design system provides for the acquisition of protection for designs with unitary effect for the whole territory of the EU. The Geneva Act allows designers to obtain design protection in a number of countries through a single international application filed with the International Bureau of WIPO, replacing a whole series of registrations with different national or regional offices. So far 23 countries have become party to the Geneva Act, including Singapore, Turkey and Switzerland.

The new legislation not only implements the necessary measures for the administration of international registrations designating the Community, but also aligns some aspects of the design legislation with the trademark legislation.

The first text amends Regulation No 2245/2002 implementing Council Regulation (EC) No 6/2002 on Community Designs. The modifications relate to the examination for registration and for renewals, to the means of communication with the International Bureau and to publicity relating to international registrations designating the Community. In addition, some modifications have been included to simplify the administration of the designs proceedings by the Office for the Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM), which is in charge of handling the administration of the registered Community designs.

The second text amends Regulation 2246/2002 concerning the fees payable to the OHIM (Trade Marks and Designs). The modifications relate to the administration of individual fees for international registration designating the European Community.

The regulations will enter into force once the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement is applied to the EC. The deposition of the instrument of ratification before WIPO is scheduled for end September 2007. EU businesses would then be able to benefit from the new system as from beginning of January 2008.
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