Ground Breaking Design Legislation

In a ground breaking judgment between Proctor & Gamble and Reckitt Benckiser at the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Jacob has issued guidelines on how monopoly rights over designs should be interpreted in the future across the European Union. The relatively new registered and unregistered Community design has only been going for four years, and, as a result, there have been very few cases to clarify the position. Prior to this latest ruling the legal test was whether one product would provide the “same overall impression on the informed user” to an alleged copy. However, in his analysis Judge Jacob ruled that a variety of “differences” - from the “shape” of the head of Reckitt Benckiser’s Febreze sprayer to the “tapering off” of the can - provided a “different overall impression on the informed user” to the Proctor & Gamble product thus changing the way this monopoly right will be relied upon in the future.

What is the definition of design?

“Design” means the appearance of the whole or a part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, colour, shape, texture, contours, materials and ornamentation. The Registered Community Design is a monopoly right lasting 25 years, renewable every 5 years. It is valid in 27 member states. www.oami.europa.eu
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