Registered Community Designs are available from 1 January 2003. Application must be filed within 12 months of making the design available to the public.
Meanwhile the new European Design Law offers protection for unregistered designs. That is a new phenomenon. However, that protection only lasts for 3 years and afterwards one cannot take out a valid registration. If someone has a new design he has to decide within one year if he finds it worthwhile to apply for registration of the design or not.
Duration of registration
A registration is valid for 5 years, but is renewable up to a maximum of 25 years. Thereafter the design right expires. If the design right expires, the other rights the holder can claim for the product, remain in tact, like copyright (for an artistic creation) or the right to a shape mark (if the product may also serve to distinguish the goods).
The official fees are moderate, considering the large territory covered. The registration will be effected shortly after the application, which is possible, because opposition has not been provided for.
It is possible to start cancellation proceedings in the Office for the Harmonisation of the Internal Market (Trade Marks and Designs) OHIM. The costs of these proceedings are remarkably lower than those of action in the European Court of first instance (in which capacity the national courts may sit). Anyway, this is also a possibility.
Simple and multiple applications
One has wished to provide for multiple application for matching clothing ensembles, crockery, cutlery and suchlike. Because of the problems to word a suitable definition this idea has been abandoned. Now it is possible to combine even a wide variety of products within multiple applications. In that way huge economies can be made. However, each item of a multiple registration may be individually renewed and assigned if need arises.