An unregistered Community design (UCD) is defined by the Community Design Regulation in the same way as the registered Community design (RCD) but is given protection for a period of three years from the date on which the design was first made available to the public within the territory of the European Union. An UCD gives to its holder a right to prevent copying. RCDs and UCDs have to meet the same conditions to be protected.
Unlike a registered Community design, you do not have to file an application to protect an unregistered design. In practice, the holder of a UCD may encounter serious problems proving the date of disclosure and therefore that protection exists.
The territorial scope of protection of an RCD and a UCD is the same. Both have unitary character throughout the European Union and share the requirements for protection such as novelty and individual character. The rights conferred, however, differ because the RCD gives an exclusive right to use and to prevent the making, offering, putting on the market, importing, exporting, using or stocking for such purposes of products incorporating the design, which do not produce a different overall impression.
The UCD constitutes a right to prevent the commercial use of the design only if the use results from copying. Consequently, if the design has been created independently by a second designer (in other words, that designer shows that he/she was not aware of the existence of the protected design), there is no infringement.
Within the first 12 months following disclosure of the design, you may still apply for a registered Community design to increase the level of your protection.