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Design Protection in Europe and Germany (Design Patent)

A design patent can protect the exterior design of a product, graphical symbols and typographic typefaces. An design patent is a comparably cost efficient IP right and its maximal term of protection can reach up to 25 years.

We can provide advice in all aspects of design protection by design applications and how a broad scope of protection can be achieved by a serial application and multiple views in a cost efficient manner.

We advice and represent design agencies that have been awarded with several renowned design prizes.

In the following section we provide general legal information about design protection in Europe and Germany. The information about design protection in Europe and Germany is divided into the following sections:

General Information

A design patent protects the outer appearance of a product or part thereof, graphical symbols or typographic typefaces. A design patent can be upheld in Europe and Germany up to 25 years provided that the renewal fees are paid.

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Requirements for Design Protection

A design must be novel and have individual character in order to be protected by a European Community design or a German design patent. A design has individual character, if the overall impression it produces on the informed user differs from the overall impression produced on such a user by any other design which has been made available to the public before. When assessing individual character, the degree of freedom of the designer in developing the design shall be taken into consideration.

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European Community Design

A Community Design application for all countries of the European Union can be field at the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM). The European Community design has a grace period of 12 months for own prior use and publication before the filing date or priority date.

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German Design Patent

A German design design (formerly called Geschmacksmuster) can be filed with the German Patent and Trademark Office (GPTO) in Munich. The German Design Act also provides a grace period of 12 months for own prior use and publication before the filing date or priority date. Further, the German Design Act provides an exhibition priority for presentation on an exhibition admitted by the German Ministry of Justice in the Federal Law Gazette for providing protection at exhibitions and an exhibition priority.

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Foreign Filing in Europe or Germany

A priority of an earlier design patent application can be claimed within 6 months of the filing date, both for a European Community design and a German design patent.

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International Design (Hague System)

Both the European Community and Germany are members of the Hague System and Hague Agreement, respectively. Thus, the European Community and Germany can be assigned by an international design under the Hague System.

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Multiple Applications

In a European Community design application and in a German design patent application a plurality of designs can be filed in the same application, provided that all designs relate to the same class of the Locarno Classification.

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Deferment of Publication

Upon request publication of a Community design or a German design patent can be deferred by up to 30 months from the filing date or priority date.

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Cancelation or Nullity Proceedings of a Design

A European Community design can be cancelled during nullity proceedings at the OHIM upon request or during enforcement by a counterclaim. A German design patent may also be cancelled by nullity proceedings at the GPTO upon request or during enforcement by a counterclaim.

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