Design law protects the industrial “design”, i.e. the appearance of a product.
In France, design protection (5 years minimum, which may be extended by successive time periods of 5 years each, for a maximum of 25 years) is governed by Book V of the French Code of Intellectual Property. These provisions bring Directive (EC) n° 98-670 of 13th October 1998 into domestic law.
Since 6th March 2002 when Council Regulation (EC) n°6/2002 of 12th December 2001 came into force, a unitary title covering the whole EU territory has been in place.
French designs must be registered at the INPI (the National Office for Patents and Trademarks). The filing of community designs may be completed at the INPI as well as at the OHIM (Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market – Trademarks and Designs).
There is also an international filing procedure for performing a single international filing at the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) in order to designate as many Signatory States as desired, in accordance with the Hague Agreement concerning the International Filing of Industrial Designs. Only a new and distinctive design may receive protection. These requirements are met when no other identical design has been disclosed at the date of filing (or at the claimed priority date) and when the overall visual impression it creates in the mind of an informed observer differs from that produced by any design disclosed prior to the date of filing (or the date of priority claimed).
Subject to its originality, a registered design is also protected by authors’ rights law.
Damages to the rights attached to protected designs may give rise to an action for infringement and possibly an action for unfair competition as well.
Finally, Regulation n°6/2002 also protects unregistered EU designs for a period of three years dating from its first public disclosure within the EU.
Assistance and follow-up for:
Representation in litigation related to designs.