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No 24 (December 2000/Décembre 2000/Dezember 2000)
The Commission approved on 20 October 2000 an amended proposal for a Council Regulation on the Community Design which, to a large extent, takes account of the comments made by the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and of the development of the discussions at the Council on the Commissions proposal of June 1999 (see SMN 17). The Commissions proposal for a Community design regulation, which has to be approved by an unanimous decision of the EUs Council of Ministers, is a very important step towards the creation of the Internal Market for intellectual property by ensuring wide protection of Community designs. It includes all the relevant provisions on substantive design law which are incorporated in the Design Directive (1) as well as some changes that have been agreed during the discussions at the Councils working party on industrial property.
The Regulation on Community Design provides for a unitary Community system for the legal protection of industrial design. Apart from the Benelux Countries, the protection of industrial design in the European Union is granted upon application on a State-by-State basis. The legal effect of the protection is limited to the territory of the State in which the protection has been granted. National protection systems, even if harmonised, cannot fully satisfy the needs of the Internal Market because their territorial character, thus a Community-wide protection system for design, similar to the existing Community protection system on trade marks, is considered necessary.
The proposed Regulation is intended to encourage innovation and help
to prevent counterfeiting and piracy by providing for protection of industrial
designs on the basis of two forms of protection at European level, one
being a short-term unregistered design right and the other being a longer
term registered design right. The conditions for protection are the same
in both cases, novelty and individual character, and comply with the corresponding
provisions of the Directive.
As regards the unregistered Community design, the proposal envisages
that designs would be protected for three years as from the date on which
they are first made available to the public within the Community.
As regards the protection of designs of spare components of complex products, the Commission maintains its view that spare parts cannot enjoy protection under the Community design system until a final solution has been reached in the framework of the Directive. However, the Commission has already announced that it is flexible to accept a solution along the lines of what the European Parliament proposed, i.e. to grant protection for spare parts of complex products as far as they are not used for repair purposes, if all the Member States can agree on this solution.
The Commission undertook to launch a consultation exercise, immediately
after the adoption of the Directive, involving the most concerned parties,
and with a view to arriving at a voluntary agreement among these parties
on the use of spare parts for repair purposes and on their protection.
The consultation exercise has in the meantime been initiated and is now
(1) Directive 98/71/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 October 1998 on the legal protection of designs. JO L 289 of 28.10.1998, p.28.
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