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Protect your trade marks and designs in the European Union

Protect your intellectual property in the European Union

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Looking after your rights

'A registered Community design confers on the proprietor exclusive rights therein. The proprietor shall be entitled to prevent all third parties not having consent from using it in the course of trade.'

Article 19 of the Community design Regulation




Enforcing your design is as important as registering it.

You are responsible for enforcing your registered Community design. To do this effectively you must be vigilant. A registered Community design will warn competitors that you have a right, but if someone uses your design, or one like it, without permission, it's up to you to take action to stop them.


OHIM is responsible for registering Community trade marks and designs.

OHIM is not an enforcement agency, so we cannot provide legal advice on enforcing trade marks or designs.


The registers

Make sure no one tries to protect an identical or similar design.

Search design registers for designs that are identical or similar to yours.

We offer a search tool for design registrations. Registered users can configure automatic watch alerts and receive a notification whenever potentially conflicting RCD applications are received at OHIM.

DesignView is a search engine that can search for both RCDs and national applications and registrations in the EU Member States.

If you are unable to conduct your own searches, professional IP watching services are provided by legal professionals.

If you discover a competitor has registered a design that is similar or identical to your own, you can enforce your earlier right and request the invalidity of the more recent design registration.

It's up to you to take action.

The market

Ensure nobody uses your design in the market.

Monitor the marketplace by checking the press, trade publications and the web for companies using your design without authorisation. It may be that illegal copies of your products are on sale or that competitors are using designs that are similar, but not identical, to your RCD. In both cases you are entitled to enforce your rights.

Remember, illegal use of your design can be both on physical goods and in advertising media, including websites used to promote sales.

Consider making an application for customs monitoring with your national customs authority. Customs officers, when confronted with potentially infringing products, can consult databases in which all applications are centralised, allowing them to highlight potential infringements and seize counterfeit goods.

Registered users of registered Community designs can prepare an application for customs protection online in their user area.

If you find irregularities in the market, online, or at EU border agencies we strongly recommend you to first seek legal advice.

It's up to you to take action.

At OHIM

Apply to have identical or similar registered designs declared invalid.


In the courts and in business

Act against the infringer

We advise you to contact a legal practitioner before taking any action in a dispute.


Inform the alleged infringer — 'Cease and desist' letters

Once an infringement has been detected, consider sending a 'cease and desist' letter, informing your competitor about the conflict. This makes your competitor officially aware of your rights and lets them know that if they continue to disregard your rights they might face further action.


Negotiate

In some cases you may be able to negotiate a settlement through mediation and arbitration. These services are suited to disputes between legitimate businesses where both sides are looking for cost-effective and practical solutions.


Civil law measures

If your attempts to warn or negotiate with the alleged infringer fail, there are other legal measures available to combat infringements such as preliminary injunctions and precautionary seizures to prevent illegal use of your design. In all cases, enforcement action under civil law must be brought at national level in the relevant EU jurisdictions. However, one advantage of the RCD is that one court is competent to order such a measure in all Member States.


Criminal law measures

Measures under criminal law apply when counterfeiting and piracy activities are involved. You will need to contact national enforcement and prosecution authorities in the relevant EU jurisdiction.

Please note that criminal law enforcement rules for intellectual property have not been harmonised in the EU. Enforcement actions under criminal law are brought at national level using the relevant national law. As a result, the options available at European level for criminal law enforcement vary considerably and it is not always possible to apply criminal law enforcement measures in the same way in every country.

If you are asked to prove the existence of your RCD in court proceedings you can obtain an uncertified or certified copy of your registration through your user area.

Page last updated 05-12-2013