Community Design


A design is the outward appearance of a product or part of it, resulting from the lines, contours, colors, shape, texture, materials and/or its ornamentation. Designs may be protected as Registered Community Design, effective within all EU member states, if they are (a) novel, that is if no identical design has been made available to the public; (b) they have individual character, which means the "informed user" would find it different from other designs which are available to the public.

Effective Area

Upon registration, a Community Design will be effective within all EU member states. In case any new members join the EU, the effective area of a Community Design will extend to such new member states accordingly.


Right holder of a Community Design owns the exclusive proprietary right on the design, is entitled to prohibit any third party from using, producing, offering for sale, selling, or importing products incorporating such design or having similar appearance within EU member states.

A registered Community Design is valid for 5 year, which term can be extended 4 times and each extension shall be 5 years; as maximum, a Community Design can remain effective for 25 years.

Application and Examination Procedure

It is allowed to register several designs under identical product category with one application. In such case, up from the second design, favorable application and publication official fees will apply. This is advantageous for applicants who apply for more than one design in an application. However, designs falling within different product categories shall be applied separately.

Community Design is subject to formality review and the competent authority will not proceed with substantive examination. That means, as long as the application appears in conformation with relevant regulation, the competent authority will register the design, regardless of whether it is novel or whether it is identical to prior registered Community Design. If any third party considers any registered Community Designs not meeting the protection requirements, for example, lack of novelty, an invalidity procedure can be initiated to invalidate such designs. Due to the formality review system, a design applied for registration will normally be approved and registered, within a short period of time around 3 months. However, although being easily registered, a Community Design may be cancelled after its registration if a third party applies for invalidation.

Postponement of publication

As mentioned above, the Community Design registration can be completed within around 3 months. This means, the registered design will be published and disclosed to the public after such short period of time, which, in some case, may be disadvantageous for the marketing of products incorporating such design. In such event, the applicant may apply for postponement of the registration publication for a maximum of 30 months starting from the application or priority date.

Strategic thinking

Community Design has the following pros:

  • cost effective (official fee for one application with one design: 350 Euro)
  • prompt registration (around 3 months)
  • wide protection area (all EU member states)
  • long effective term (maximal 25 years)
  • publication postponement possible

It is worthwhile to obtain such EU-wide protection before marketing and selling products in Europe.

Lee & Schwerbrock provides services for Community Design application and related proceedings, please contact us for further details.