With a single application, companies will be able to protect an industrial design, not only throughout the EU, but in 19 other countries that support an international agreement, following a decision by the European Parliament.
The Parliament voted in support of Commission proposals to link the 'Community Design' system, which protects designs ranging from jewellery to mobile phones within the EU, with the international design registration system of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).
In addition to the 25 Member States of the EU, a design will be protected in the countries which are members of the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement concerning the international registration of industrial designs. These include Singapore, Korea, Turkey and Switzerland. Unfortunately they do not include major markets such as the US, China, Japan, Australia.
Welcoming Parliament's decision, Internal Market and Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said today: "This vote is an important step towards our aims of enabling EU businesses to safeguard valuable design rights with less bureaucracy, while encouraging them to trade with third countries in the knowledge that their design rights are protected."
The Community Design system, which became fully operational on 1st April 2003, provides for the acquisition of protection for designs with unitary effect for the whole territory of the EU. The Office for the Harmonization in the Internal Market (Trade Marks and Designs), which is located in Alicante (Spain), is in charge of handling the administration of the registered Community designs.
This simplified procedure should bring cost savings: there would no longer be a need to provide translations of the documents, to keep watch on the different deadlines for renewal of a great number of national registrations and to pay a series of national fees and fees to agents in different countries.