Registered designs protect a product’s form of appearance or parts thereof against imitation.
As such, the aesthetic characteristics of a product are the subject matter of design law. These may include its form, outlines, surface structure, colours, but also the effect of a product achieved by using specific materials. In addition to classical designer pieces like fashion products and furniture, design law also governs objects of daily use (such as kitchen equipment, carpets or lawn mowers), typographic characters, graphics, screen displays and buildings.
Design law poses a special challenge for lawyers. While this is also due to the general complexity of the legal field itself, difficulties are primarily caused by the fact that a lawyer needs to develop a deep understanding of the design itself and its characteristics to be able to obtain and enforce protection thereof.
We support companies and designers in protecting the exclusivity of their designs. Usually, this is achieved by registering designs with the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA), the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
The property right obtainable for a registered design is granted without inspection upon registration, meaning that mistakes are not discovered at this stage. Mostly, mistakes only become apparent when a registered design proves insufficient during action.
This renders obtaining legal advice before seeking registration so important: we first investigate whether the object actually qualifies for registration of design. If this is the case, we look at already existing shapes to analyse the specifics of the design in question together with the client and work out how this is best presented in the registration documents. In addition, we examine whether national or international registration is required. Finally, we take care of a quick and reliable registration and represent the client vis-à-vis the authorities.
If, however, a design does not qualify for design registration, we analyse whether protection may be obtained by other means, such as copyright, trademark law or through supplementary protection of creations under competition law.
Our firm also frequently deals with design litigation. Design disputes are highly complex and particularly difficult from a legal viewpoint, thus requiring special expertise.
Regardless of the side we represent - holder of a registered design or alleged infringer - we place great emphasis on fully investigating the existing range of shapes and on presenting the facts to the courts in a clear and understandable manner. Our intensive analysis with a trained eye provides us with our own impression of the subject matter of dispute and you can rely on us to pursue every single aspect that might support your position.