Biomedical Engineering Reference
The system of utility models was originally a German creation, then it has
become particularly successful in Asian countries: Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan
3.2.8 Industrial Designs
About designs, the community rules envisage a dual type of protection: unregis-
tered and registered designs.
Unregistered designs are protected, starting from the date of first disclosure
and for a maximum of 3 years, against slavish copying. Registration provides a
broader protection (not only from the standpoint of time, namely for 25 years,
with renewals every fifth year), namely it confers the following rights:
• it prevents the use not only of an identical design, but also of a design reproduc-
ing the same overall impression;
• it excludes third parties from using the design (manufacturing, offer and/or sale,
New designs provided with an individual character may be registered (not pat-
ented). Assessment is no longer based on the aesthetic value (the requirement of
special ornamentation was removed). A design is new if, before the application
filing date, no identical design or no design differing only in trivial or irrelevant
details has been disclosed [ 19 ].
The requirement of novelty is absolute: this means it has no limitations in terms
of either time or territory. However it is softened by some provisions:
• knowledge by informed users;
• disclosure to third parties under a duty of conidentiality;
• disclosure to third parties entailing abuse against the applicant;
• pre-disclosure by the author during the 12 months preceding the application iling.
A design is provided with individual character if informed users would find it dif-
ferent from other designs available to the public, taking the degrees of freedom of
designers into consideration.
The individual character has no aesthetic reference.
Informed users are neither experts or design critics, nor average consumers, but
people who is well acquainted with the market of the product where the design is
embodied and is able to recognize those aesthetic differences which might escape
the attention of occasional purchasers.
Some examples of assessment of the requirements are presented in Annex 1 at
the end of this chapter: they show some decisions of the Invalidity Division of the
Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM).
The individual parts of a complex product are also liable of protection, but only
with regard to their outer appearance.
Once embodied in the complex product, the component must remain visible.