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The protection of Design

Interview with Agueda Bondia

We have dialogued with Agueda Bondia, Spanish Patent and Trademark Attorney, Agent before the European Patent Office and Trade Mark and Community Designs to clarify some of the most common questions raised by our clients concerning the protection of Design.

When do you advise to file a design? I advise filing if the design is the result of work focused on product differentiation (or part thereof) from the rest, standing out for its uniqueness in terms of appearance which is derived from features such as lines, contours, shapes , colours, textures, materials, or its ornamentation, etc. The design of a product is an added value and in many cases, a key factor for the public or customers wish to pursue one product over another.

What can be registered as design? Virtually the appearance of any industrial or handicraft item may be the subject of a design, including among other things, packaging, graphic symbols, typefaces and parts of products that can be assembled and dismantled again. You can register from fashion items like shoes or jewellery to furniture, car bodies, toys, etc.

What effects and rights  do you get when registering a design? By protecting a design through registration, the owner obtains exclusive rights to prevent unauthorized copying or imitation by third parties.

What duration has a design? For how long  can I make use of? The maximum term of a design varies by territory of the design registration. For example, a design in Spain, known as "Industrial Design", once granted registration lasts for 5 years from the date of filing the application for registration and can be renewed for one or more periods 5 successive years to a maximum of 25 years from the filing date.

Can I order multiple designs in a single application? As in the previous question, it depends on the territorial area of registration of Design.

Is there a design registration for Europe? There is what is called Community Design, which gives a unitary protection in all countries of the European Union. The body of the European Union responsible for administering the Community Design is the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) based in Alicante. I take this opportunity to comment that from March 23, 2016 the agency will be renamed and will be renamed the Intellectual Property Office of the European Union (EUIPO).

Should we file a design application directly in all countries that we want protection? It is not necessary, since you can start by presenting a first design application in a country or region before finalizing a priority period of 6 months, it is possible to present, based on the first application, other applications for design on other countries which are Member States of the Paris Convention or the Agreement establishing the World Trade Organization was created.

For example, you can start by submitting a Spanish Design application, also known as Industrial Design, and before 6 month anniversary submit an application for Community Design and / or design in the United States (called Design Patent Application), Canada , Japan, etc., that is, where we want to aim to obtain protection. Rather than start with a Spanish design, you can start also introducing a Community Design and before the end of the priority period of 6 months to submit respective applications where interests.

Another option to consider is to apply for an International Design, which is part of a system of international registration of designs for countries that are integrated in the Hague Agreement. This system allows the holder protection in multiple countries through the filing of an application in one language, paying one set of fees in one currency, in addition to the simplification and unification of a number of procedures such as the formal examination and publication, in rather than country to country. We should point out that in an International Design it is possible to designate all countries of the European Union collectively, through the Community Design.


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