Design law

‘Good design is good business’ (T. J. Watson Jr.) This principle of the legendary head of IBM applies today more than ever. So if you want to be successful in business, you need reliable, well thought-out protection for your designs as well as adept enforcement of these rights against imitators.

But what does design protection involve? It protects the appearance of a product or part of a product against imitation, i.e. the aesthetic features of a product such as its shape, contours, surface structure, colours, but also the material effect through the use of certain materials. All products can be protected, from classic ‘designer pieces’ (e.g. fashion products, designer furniture, designer wallpaper) to supposedly simple everyday objects (such as kitchen accessories, electronic devices and lawnmowers), typographic characters, graphic signs, screen displays and buildings.

We support our clients in

  • Development of protection strategies
  • National and international protection of designs
  • Extrajudicial enforcement of design rights
  • Portfolio management in the field of designs.
  • Design contract law: negotiation and drafting of licence agreements
  • Competitive monitoring, i.e. market observation for infringing designs

Registration of designs

We support companies and designers in protecting the exclusivity of their designs. This is regularly done by registering designs with the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA), the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

The design right is an unexamined property right. Errors in the application can therefore not be ‘ironed out’ during the registration procedure. They often only become apparent when the design right proves to be unsustainable in court.

Our legal advice in the run-up to registration is therefore of particular importance.

We determine whether the subject matter is suitable for a design registration at all. If this is the case, we work together with the client on the basis of the set of designs to determine what is special about the design and how this can best be emphasised in the application and whether national or international registration is required. Finally, we complete the registration quickly and reliably and act as the representative vis-à-vis the offices.

If the design is not suitable for a design registration, we examine the extent to which protection can be obtained by other means, such as copyright, trade mark law or supplementary protection under competition law.

Design litigation

Another focus of our practice is the management of design disputes. Design disputes are highly complex and extremely difficult from a legal perspective. They require special expertise.

Regardless of whether we are on the side of the owner of the design right or the potential infringer, it is important for us to fully determine the

design set and its coherent and clear presentation to the court is of decisive importance to us. You can expect us to form our own impression of the subject matter of the proceedings through intensive research with a trained eye and to pursue any evidence that strengthens your position.

Our lawyers are at your disposal as contacts in design law.