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Design Protection Outside the UK

Written by Jane Coyle on 19 August 2008

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Registering your design in the United Kingdom does not protect it abroad. If you want to protect your design in countries other than the UK, Lawdit Solicitors can help you apply for a Registered Community Design (RCD) with the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM) which is based in Alicante, Spain. The Registered Community Design gives protection in all countries of the European Union (EU).Your application will cover the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia , Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.

RCD’s are protected for a period of five years. They can be then renewed four times giving a maximum life of 25 years of protection. If you want to protect your design in individual counties you generally have to make a separate application to each country in which you want protection. If you apply to register your design in a country like the UK that has signed the 'International Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property', you can claim 'priority' from your earliest application for the same design in another Convention country, as long as you apply within six months of the earliest filing date in that Convention country.

Holders of valid RCD’s have exclusive rights to use the design concerned and to prevent any third party from using it anywhere within the European Union. They will be protected against both deliberate copying and the independent development of a similar design. The rights cover, in particular, the making, offering, marketing, importing, exporting or use of a product in which the design is incorporated or to which it is applied, or holding stock of such a product for those purposes. A single legal system applies to Community designs, providing strong and uniform protection throughout the European Union. During the examination, the applications are checked mainly for formalities (e.g. no search for novelty).After any future enlargement of the European Union, any RCD registered or applied for will automatically be extended to the new enlarged territory without any need to make any application or pay fees.

To date, OHIM has received and registered around 320 000 designs and this is increasing at a rate of about 80 000 a year. Registering an RCD is an inexpensive, fast and uncomplicated process. The average time taken to register is currently around six weeks, but the most straightforward cases can be registered in a matter of days.

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