Protecting your Design Internationally

When compared to trade mark registration, there is much less uniformity to protecting designs internationally. Therefore if you think there is a chance that you may want to use your design outside of Europe, it is important to try and plan for this up front. This is because the requirements for design registration, in for example the other main English speaking countries are stricter than is required under the European Design System.

The main problem here is that like patents, the disclosure of a design is not limited to the country in which this takes place. Therefore  disclosure in one country can defeat the novelty required to register the design in another country.

Th main difference in design systems is that most countries do not allow a design to be disclosed prior to an application for registration being made. Whereas in Europe a 12 month grace period is allowed for testing. However this additional requirement may have another impact which may not at first be obvious. This is the fact that even if you register in Europe straight away without using the grace period, this registration can in fact also defeat registration in other countries. This is because as part of the European registration process the design will be published, unless the applicant requests upfront that this even be deferred to allow other registrations to proceed.

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