Yves Saint Laurent SAS, filed an application for registration of a Community design with the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (Trade Marks and Designs) (OHIM) pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) No 6/2002 of 12 December 2001 on Community designs.
This design was applied to ÂhandbagsÂ in Class 03-01 of the Locarno Agreement Establishing an International Classification for Industrial Designs of 8 October 1968. The design was challenged byÂ H&M Hennes & Mauritz BV & Co. KG. It filed an application for a declaration of invalidity in respect of the handbag based on Articles 4 to 9 of Regulation No 6/2002 and on Article 25(1)(c) to (f) or (g) of that regulation. In its application it claimed that the contested design had no individual character within the meaning of Article 6 of that regulation.
The application was dismissed and in the context of fashion items like handbags, the designerÂs degree of freedom was high.
A design is defined in the regulations as Â “the appearance of the whole or a part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture and/or materials of the product itself and/or its ornamentation” (Art. 3). A Designs may be protected if:they are novel, that is if no identical design has been made available to the publicÂ they have individual character, that is the “informed user” would find it different from other designs which are available to the public.