Design law

Design law is about the protection of design, or in other words the appearance of utility models. For example, you can think of design in the field of interior, fashion or (parts of) cars. European legislation defines a design as the appearance of a product or part thereof which is derived from the characteristics of, in particular, the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture and/or materials of the product itself and/or its ornamentation.

The appearance of a product or part of it may be protected by a registered design right, but also by an unregistered design right. Registration is therefore not a requirement, but with a registered design the protection can continue for 25 years, while with an unregistered design right that is only 3 years.

The same material requirements apply to both forms of protection: the design must be new and have its own character. The unregistered design is a design right that is free of form (it does not have to be applied for or registered) and is created free of charge. This low-threshold protection regime was created to accommodate certain industries (such as the fashion and textile industry), where large numbers of models with a short lifespan are produced in a short period of time. For those producers, registration formalities are unnecessarily onerous. However, this ‘reduction in the burden’ is offset by the fact that the term of protection is only three years and the rightholder (the designer or the company that receives the design rights) can only take action against deliberate imitation of his design. Those three years start to run from the first moment of disclosure.

The lawyers of BVDV can advise you on the possibilities in the field of design law and then also register designs for you.