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Examination Procedure of Registered Designs in Europe

Written by Jane Coyle on 12 September 2008

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A European Registered Design application must contain an indication of the product, worded in such a way that its nature is clearly indicated, preferably using the terms appearing in the list of products according to the internationally agreed 'Locarno' classification of products. If the indication of product cannot be found in the Locarno Classification, the examiner may either request the nature and purpose of the designated product is specified or changed to indicate the product. If an incorrect classification is submitted the Examiner will classify the design. The indication of product and the classification do not affect the scope of protection of a Community design.

Applications are checked mainly for formalities. There is no substantive examination (e.g. no search for novelty), except to verify that the application is for a design and that the design is not contrary to public policy or morality. Checks are made of formalities: name, address, language, signature, priority date(s), fees, description, designer and indication of product/classification; representations: public policy and morality, and if the application qualifies as a design. If he application does not meet the formal requirements, an objection will be raised by OHIM. This is usually called a "deficiency letter" and will contain a time limit for the applicant’s reply. This may lead to the amendment of the application or to its refusal in the case of non-compliance with the requirement. If the deficiency letter is not replied to within two months, this could lead to the refusal of the application, the deletion of certain views or to the loss of the claim of the priority right. If examination reveals no problems, the design is then registered and published immediately. In the case of deferred publication, the design will be published upon request – such a request can be filed within 27 months from the filing date (or within the same period from the priority date, if applicable).

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