German Design Patent
Designs involving specific two or three dimensional objects can be protected by a design patent. Design patent protection can also be granted for the layout of type faces.
Terms of protection
The object of the design patent has to be new (novelty). That means that the design for which protection is claimed must not be known among specialists.
To achieve protection the object of the design patent must have independent creative features (ingenuity), i.e. in terms of creative quality, the design has to be superior to the already existing colour and shape designs, especially to average handcraft designs.
A design patent application has to be filed with the German Patent and Trademark Office. The day on which the application has been submitted is called the filing date. Unless a so-called priority has been claimed, the filing date will be the key date for the examination of novelty and ingenuity.
The German Patent and Trademark Office checks the application for formal prerequisites. Registration is effected without examining the protection requirements (novelty and ingenuity). In case of a dispute, these requirements will be checked by the respective courts.
The first period of protection is 5 years. Protection can be extended by 5 years or several times thereof respectively to maximum 25 years.
A so-called collective application can cover up to 100 derivatives of a basic design.
European Design Registration (RCD)
Designs involving specific objects of commercial use can be protected by European designs. They have to be defined and suitable to stimulate the aesthetic sense of human beings.
A European design has to be filed with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), Alicante, Spain. The day on which the application has been submitted is called the filing date.
The maximum period of protection is 25 years.
Besides the registered European Design there is the possibility of acquiring a so-called non-registered European Design. Such a non-registered European Design expires after 3 years. The sole publication of a subject matter which may qualify for a design leads to the IP right automatically.