On 28 November 2022, the European Commission adopted proposals for a revised Regulation and Directive on industrial designs. The proposals, that are now sent to the European Parliament and Council for adoption, are aimed at modernizing the EU design system and the harmonized national design protection laws.

Apart from aligning the terminology to the Lisbon Treaty and the EU Trade Mark Regulation by renaming the “Registered Community Design” (RCD) to “Registered EU Design” (REUD), the proposals include provisions that make design protection more user-friendly and affordable, specifically considering the interests of individual creators and SMEs. The definitions of “design” and “product” as well as the rules on the scope of protection will be updated in response to technological advancements such as 3D printing, NFTs and the metaverse. Further amendments are envisaged to make design proceedings more efficient, whilst ensuring greater complementarity among EU level and national laws as well as consistency with the EU trade mark system. The introduction of an EU-wide “repair clause” into the Directive shall help increase competition in the spare parts market by making it legally possible in all EU countries to reproduce identical “must match” car body parts for repair to restore the vehicle’s original appearance.

Once adopted, most amendments to the Community Design Regulation will become applicable three months after its entry into force, whilst the EU Member States will have two years to transpose the Directive into national law.

Design rights are still underused and underestimated, not only by SMEs. With registration being a matter of a few days and relatively low costs, designs provide quick and effective protection against product imitations, which is particularly interesting for companies in fast-moving industries with ever-changing product lines or before tradeshows. With their different scope of protection and enforcement mechanism, designs can in many industries be a just as, if not more important component of a wholistic IP strategy than trademarks and patents.

After China acceded to the Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs in February 2022 (reported on this blog here), the EU design reform package is another milestone towards more effective and future-proof design protection at international scale. In Spring 2022, also the UK government launched a consultation on UK design protection as a first step towards modernizing the UK design framework post Brexit (see here). Our multinational team of design experts will help you find the right strategy to make the most of these exciting legislative developments.