There are two possible types of community design protection: registered designs and non-registered designs.
For both types, protection is granted throughout the European Union. It is not possible to limit the geographic scope of protection to only certain member states. The zone of protection grows along with the European Union.
Community designs have the same effects in each member state.
A registered community design is protected for 5 years, renewable 4 times. Protection is obtained by registering with the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM).
- As indicated by its name, a non-registered community design is protected without registration as long as it meets the conditions of protection.
The drawback to this system is that without registration, the holder could have a difficult time proving the existence of a design right. Furthermore, protection is limited to 3 years and the scope of rights is smaller. In fact, the design right holder cannot prohibit the use of an identical design which results from independent creation unless the contested use is the copying of a non-registered design.
Regulation 6/2002/EC of 12 December 2001 on community designs organises the system of community design rights.
The Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market; trademark and designs (OHIM) publishes every two months a IP C&C Newsletter.