There are two possible types of Community design protection: registered Community designs and non-registered Community designs.
In both cases, protection is granted throughout the European Union. It is not possible to limit the geographic scope of protection to only certain Member States. The protection zone increases each time the European Union expands.
Community designs produce the same effects in each Member State.
A registered Community design is protected for 5 years, which can be renewed four times. Its protection is obtained following registration with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).
- As its name indicates, a non-registered Community design is protected without any form of application, provided that it meets the protection conditions.
The disadvantage of this system is that without registration, the rightholder risks having problems proving the existence of design rights. Furthermore, the term of protection is limited to three years and the scope of protection of the rights is not as extensive. The holder of the design can only oppose the use of an identical design, if the contested use is the result of the intentional copying of the non-registered design, i.e. its creator acted in bad faith because he was aware of the existence of the previous design.
Community design rights are governed by Regulation 6/2002/EC of 12 December 2001 on Community design rights.