A New European Design Law is coming

On 1 March 2024, the European Parliament approved the update of the EU law on design protection agreed with the Council on 5 December 2023.

The design protection system in Europe is more than 20 years old. In the past, only the regulation was amended once, in 2006, to make the EU’s accession to the international registration system in The Hague effective.

The new law (Directive and Regulation) aims to modernise design protection and make it more attractive to individual designers and companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Firstly, the new law focuses on design protection in the light of new technologies, such as 3D printing and artificial intelligence: EU design protection will not be limited to physical objects, but will also include virtual ones, such as animations, maps and fonts.

Secondly, the new law provides for reduced registration and renewal fees for individual designers and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to encourage the use of design registration as a useful means of protecting their creations.

Finally, the new law contains a repair clause, according to which repairs to components of complex products will not be protected by the EU design if the sole purpose of the repair is to restore the original appearance of the product. This exclusion will only be granted if consumers are adequately informed about the identity of the producer of the exclusive repaired product.

In this way, consumers will be free to choose the repair product they prefer.

A transition period is foreseen, during which the member states that allow spare parts protection by design are obliged to remove this possibility by transposing the new directive. Members of the European Parliament seem to be in favour of reducing this transition period from 10 to 3 years.

The new law (both the regulation and the directive) will enter into force on the 20th day after publication in the Official Journal. The regulation will start to apply after 4 months and the member states will have 36 months to transpose the directive into their national systems.

More information available here.

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