Authors: Kristina Romanovskaja, Reda Zaboliene, Managing Partner, Attorney-at-Law, Patent Attorney in METIDA
What is a design? Legally, a design is defined as an appearance of the whole or a part of a product, comprising the features of a product itself or it’s ornamentation. From consumer’s perspective, a design is perceived aesthetically. A design could be protected in various ways, yet we as EU member state citizens should mostly focus on the registered Community design protection system.
The first Community design was registered by OHIM on the 1st of April, 2003. Since then, this type of protection of product’s appearance has become increasingly popular. In the last decade, OHIM received approximately 720.000 design applications and the number is still constantly increasing.
The history of Community design started on the 12th of December, 2001, when the Community Designs Regulation was adopted (No. 6/2002). The Regulation legally ensures the protection of a design in two levels:
- The protection of an unregistered Community design that gets protection after its first public appearance in a Community territory.
- The protection of a registered Community design (RCD) that gains protection after its registration in OHIM.
Both levels of protection could be important and useful for a proprietor or creator of a design. Yet, the scope of protection of the registered Community design is clearer and more explicit and an applicant should find it more advantageous. This is due to the fact that such aspects as introduction of a design publicly or the novelty and originality of a design are recorded in a written form through an official document. In addition, the validity period of this type of protection is longer. As a result, it becomes easier for an applicant to protect his/her design or to challenge the validity of later registrations or similar designs.
Although RCD is widely popular in the whole Community territory, Lithuanian designers tend to rely on the unregistered Community design protection and do not opt for the registration of their created products. This could be supported by the fact that OHIM received 212 design applications from Lithuania in the last ten years. Other Baltic states were considerably more active in this decade. For example, Latvian representatives and applicants filed 458 applications and Estonia filed 277 applications with OHIM.
The number of applications for the Community design registrations from member states filed with OHIM, suggests that every year this type of protection becomes more popular. This allows us to imply that even Lithuanians might regard this type of protection as a better option and try to protect their creations not only in Lithuania, but also in other regions.