EU Design Reform: The horizon is in sight as Council and European Parliament reach provisional deal
In welcome news for designers, the Council and European Parliament very recently reached a provisional deal on the EU design reform package.
In November 2022, to make design protection more affordable, faster, and predictable and to address the challenges of 3D printing and the digital transformation, the European Commission adopted its design reform proposal including the Proposal of Directive on the legal protection of EU Designs and the Proposal of Regulation on EU Designs. (See our article, EU design laws: changes on the horizon – designwrites.law.)
The European Council subsequently supported most of the changes proposed by the Commission. However, it also brought about some important amendments relating to fee levels, the requirements for representation of a design and the approach to national administrative invalidity proceedings. (For details of the Council’s position as set out in September 2023, see our article, EU Design Reform: The horizon even closer after European Council adopts position – designwrites.law.)
On 5 December 2023, the Council and the European Parliament reached a provisional deal on the design reform package, which will make it easier to register designs at EU level and ensuring that EU and national procedures are harmonised. It also introduces a new “repair clause” which clarifies the exceptions from design protection for spare parts used for the repair of complex products (e.g. cars).
The main elements of the deal are as follows:
There will be a change in terminology: The Registered Community Design and the Unregistered Community Design are dead, long live the Registered EU Design and the Unregistered EU Design!
The repair clause agreed on excludes from design protection the replacement parts for a complex product that are used to restore its original appearance. The exception only applies to repair purposes and the replacement part must look exactly like the original piece. This means that design protection will no longer be conferred to ‘must-match’ spare parts, whose appearance is dependent on the appearance of original product.
The transitional period for the introduction of the ‘repair clause’ has been reduced from ten to eight years.
The EU-wide fees for design protection are to be increased and they will be higher than for design protection on national level. This reflects the larger territorial scope of the EU-wide design protection.
Under the new set of rules it will be forbidden to protect cultural heritage elements of national interest (e.g. traditional costumes of a region) as private designs. The term “cultural heritage” is to be defined in line with UNESCO’s definition of “cultural heritage”.
While the Regulation will be applicable throughout the EU once it comes into force, member states will have a period of 36 months to take the necessary measures to transpose the Directive.
The provisional agreement reached by the Council and the EU Parliament now needs to be endorsed and formally adopted. It is expected that the new law will enter into force in the first half of 2024. We will continue to keep you updated!