Major update to EU design law

Written by Tom Synott | July 9, 2024

Design Rights

Registered designs protect the shape and/or appearance of a product. They are an invaluable (and cheap) part of the IP toolkit whose importance we have written about a number of times (e.g. here)

In one of the most anticipated changes to design law in recent years, the EU has announced a new system for registered designs, the so-called ‘EU Design Regulation and Directive’ (the Directive). The Directive is due to be adopted by the EU Council imminently (with member states then having three years to transpose the directive into their national laws).

Key changes imposed by the Directive

We set out some of the key changes imposed by the Directive below:

  1. the EU is going to adopt new terminology for designs – what had previously been termed ‘Registered Community Designs’ (RCDs) will now be terms ‘Registered EU designs’ (REUDs);
  2. as has been the case with copyright works for a number of years, rightsholders will be able to show they are claiming rights in a particular design with the new symbol;
  3. the EUIPO will introduce a new fee schedule which will allow applicants to make use of bulk discounts and enjoy greater transparency as to fees;
  4. for the first time, the definition of what includes a ‘design’ will be expanded to include 3D printed objects, those created in the metaverse and via other technological advances (including animations which depict the appearance of a product pertinent to NFTs); and
  5. in another key impact, the Directive will limit the design protection available to ‘spare parts’ opening up the market to independent retailers able to create replacement parts for a particular product without the original owner’s consent.

Briffa comment

It should be noted that, following Brexit, these changes will not be implemented into UK law. However, the UK Intellectual Property Office is conducting its own parallel review into existing design legislation and it will be interesting to see how closely they choose to mirror the EU position (or indeed if they decide to adopt an alternative approach).

Here at Briffa, the team benefits from over 25 years’ experience in intellectual property and design rights in particular. If you need any further information in protecting your designs, please do feel free to get in touch with us via

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