The Community design is valid across the European Union. The Community design has unitary character: it can be registered or declared invalid only in respect of the whole European Union and its protection is uniform throughout the EU.
The Community design regulation creates two types of protection:
1. Registered Community Design (RCD):
• RCDs are governed by a single legal system, providing strong and uniform protection throughout the European Union. Community designs are registered directly with the EUIPO in Alicante in accordance with the conditions specified in the Community design regulations.
• A RCD gives its proprietor the exclusive right in the EU to make, use, sell, import and export any product embodying or bearing the design. Registered Community designs are protected against similar designs even when the infringing design has been developed in good faith, i.e. without knowing of the existence of the earlier design.
• A RCD is easy to register. There is one application, one language of filing and one file to manage
• After the EUIPO’s formal examination, subsequent examination considers only whether the subject matter of the application satisfies the legal definition of a design or is contrary to public order or accepted principles of morality. Where there are no irregularities or deficiencies or, where there are, after they have been remedied, a certificate of registration is issued and notice of grant is published with a representation of the RCD.
• It is possible to file “multiple applications” covering more than one design, as long as all the articles to which the designs are intended to be applied fall inside the same class of the Locarno Design Classification (except in case of ornamentation).
• The applicant for a RCD can request, when the application is filed, that the publication of the RCD be deferred for up to 30 months from the filing of the application.
• Protection of a RCD is for five years, renewable for one or more successive five-year periods up to a maximum of 25 years.
• The regulation allows for an application for a declaration of invalidity to be filed once the design is registered, provided that if lack of novelty or individual character is alleged based on an earlier right the application must be lodged by the holder of that right.
2. Unregistered Community Design (UCD):
• An UCD does not require an application procedure as the right arises automatically upon disclosure. In particular, a design that is entitled to protection as a RCD will automatically be protected by an UCD for three years from the date it is first made available to the public within the territory of the European Union. After three years, the protection cannot be extended.
• Not only UCDs last for a shorter length of time than a RCD, but it also provides a weaker form of protection. In fact, UCDs grant the right to prevent commercial use of a design only if that design is an intentional copy of the protected one, made in bad faith, i.e. knowing of the existence of the earlier design.