29 April 2024

Design Reform: A Step Closer To A New Design Regulation And Design Directive

EU legislation on design protection needs updating in order to promote innovation and competitiveness in the EU. The new design reform is intended to make design protection...
Denmark Antitrust/Competition Law
To print this article, all you need is to be registered or login on

EU legislation on design protection needs updating in order to promote innovation and competitiveness in the EU. The new design reform is intended to make design protection more accessible and effective for i.a. SMEs and individual designers and adapt the protection system to the digital age.

At the end of 2022, the European Commission proposed a new design package to modernise the more than 20-year-old protection system in Europe and align national design laws. The Council and the European Parliament have now reached a preliminary agreement on the design package, which includes a proposed revision of the two legal design acts: the Design Regulation and the Design Directive. Below, we summarise the key elements of the preliminary agreement between the Council and the European Parliament.

More precise definition of products

A key concern is to make the legislation future-proof against technological advancements. For this purpose, the legislators have found it necessary to adopt a more precise definition of products. In the preliminary agreement, the definition of products is extended to include not only physical products but also products that are visualised in graphical form such as animations and NFTs. Such design protection of purely digital products represents a novelty.

Lower fees and easier filing of multiple applications

The preliminary agreement proposes a reduction of the fees. The basic fee when applying for a design registration will be reduced from EUR 350 to EUR 230. The fee for each additional design combined in a single application will be EUR 125. Today, the additional fee for 2-10 designs is EUR 175 per design.

It is already possible to co-register designs, i.e. combine multiple designs in one application, if the designs are of the same nature, i.e. belong to the same class in the Locarno Classification system. By way of example, a chair, a sofa, and a table can be co-registered as they all fall within the same major class: furniture. Co-registration makes it possible for applicants to save costs for official fees. The legislators propose to streamline and facilitate the filing of applications for co-registration of EU designs. In the preliminary agreement, it is therefore no longer a requirement that the designs to be registered belong to the same major class in the Locarno classification system. In other words, it is proposed to allow co-registration of multiple designs in the same application, even if the products are not of the same nature.

Spare parts

With the new rules, the possibility of obtaining design protection for spare parts will be phased out. If the reform is adopted, manufacturers of complex products - for instance car manufacturers - will no longer be able to obtain design protection for spare parts that are used to repair a complex product so as to restore its original appearance.

The rule is intended to prevent monopolistic practices among original spare parts manufacturers and to enhance competition between manufacturers of original and non-original spare parts. To ensure that consumers make informed decisions, it is stipulated in the draft agreement that consumers must be informed that the spare part has not been produced by the manufacturer of the original product.

Registration symbol for designs

To facilitate the marketing of design products and increase awareness of the design registration system, it is proposed to introduce a design registration symbol: "(D)". According to the draft agreement, use of the symbol will be a non-mandatory sign that can be used by proprietors who wish to communicate to the public that their design is registered by adding the "(D)".

Cultural heritage

In the agreement, it is proposed to prohibit design registration of cultural heritage elements of national interest such as traditional costumes, artefacts, or monuments.

Next step

The preliminary agreement on the design package that has been entered into between the Council and the European Parliament is now pending approval and formal adoption in both institutions.

While the final Design Regulation will be directly applicable in the individual Member States, the Member States are allowed 36 months to take the necessary measures to implement the Design Directive into their national design laws.

So the design reform will not only create new opportunities for companies wishing to protect their designs. It will also provide new opportunities for businesses offering after-sales services and spare parts - a market that is growing as a result of the increased focus on circular economy and sustainability.

We are monitoring the development and are ready to answer any questions you may have in relation to the design reform or the protection of your design.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

See More Popular Content From

Mondaq uses cookies on this website. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies as set out in our Privacy Policy.

Learn More