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The European Union (EU) Design Regulation defines a design as the appearance of a product due to its features, particularly “the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture and/or materials of the product itself and/or its ornamentation,” according to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).
In the EU, design rights (similar to design patent rights) are available at the union level and the national level. At the EU level, proprietors can protect their design by obtaining a registered community design (RCD) from EUIPO. If the design owner wants to commercialize the design without registration, they have the right to do so under the unregistered community design (UCD) right. UCD became available on March 2002 while RCD has existed since April 2003.
Certain protections are available for both RCDs and UCDs. It is illegal to manufacture, market, sale, import, or export a product that uses a RCD or UCD without the approval of the owner. As of this writing (2020), RCDs are registered for five years at the time, while UCDs are protected for three years. Protection for RCDs can be extended four times, while protection for UCDs is not extendable. A community design can be registered at the EUIPO or the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). In both cases, EUIPO will process the application.
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