The Community Designs Regulation was adopted on 12 December 2001. Unregistered Community design protection has existed since 6 March 2002 and registered Community design protection has existed since 1 April 2003.
A registered Community design (RCD) is an exclusive right for the outward appearance of a product or part of it, resulting from the features (in particular, the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture and/or materials) of the product itself and/or its ornamentation.
A RCD is valid in the European Union as a whole. It is not possible to limit the geographic scope of protection to certain Member States. A RCD initially has a life of 5 years from the date of filing and can be renewed in periods of five years up to a maximum of 25 years.
Holders of valid registered designs have exclusive rights to use the design concerned and to prevent any third party from using it anywhere within the European Union. They will be protected against both deliberate copying and the independent development of a similar design.
The rights cover, in particular, the making, offering, marketing, importing, exporting or use of a product in which the design is incorporated or to which it is applied, or holding stock of such a product for those purposes.
The RCD confers on its holder the exclusive right to use it in the 27 Member States of the European Union. It prevents any third party of using the RCD without the consent of the holder. After any future enlargement of the European Union, any RCD registered or applied for will automatically be extended to the new enlarged territory without any need to make any application or pay fees.
The RCD grants its proprietor an exclusive right to prevent unauthorised use of the design in trade. More specifically, the proprietor is entitled to prevent an unauthorised third party from making, offering, marketing, importing, exporting or using a product in which the design is incorporated or to which it is applied, or holding stock of such a product for those purposes.
If an unauthorised third party engages in any of these practices, they are guilty of infringing the exclusive right of the proprietor.
The proprietor of a RCD can act against these infringements by taking measures expressly provided for disputes concerning the infringement and validity of Community designs under the CDR (Section 2 of Title IX) and in particular via: Proceedings at the Community design courts established under the CDR and filing requests for action with the customs authorities. This administrative procedure permits proprietors of a RCD to request the EU customs authorities to retain suspected counterfeit goods while under their control.