Protecting industrial designs in Europe by a patent and trademark specialist firm

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It is clear to everyone that every product around us (or almost everything) has been previously designed. This means that a (at least) moderately intelligent mind has thought of, conceived, and executed a product with certain characteristics, previously sketched.

In Europe, Industrial Design and Product Development Engineering is perhaps the study that can provide us with one of the most complete ideas of what an industrial design is (and is not). In this article, to define it quickly, we could say that shapes, colors, materials, textures, contours… and, in short, everything that configures the aesthetic appearance of a product is part of Industrial Design, and should be protected as part of a company’s growth strategy.

The protection of Industrial Designs falls within the competencies of Industrial and Intellectual Property organizations such as the EUIPO. Agencies specialized in trademarks and patents are in charge of processing the protection of industrial property for the different products designed by/ for companies around the world. Just as trade names are protected, so are industrial designs. In the case of Europe, through the official website of EUIPO, we can access online procedures for this purpose.

Why protect industrial designs? Protection is necessary to prevent a third party from appropriating the industrial design and commercializing it, obtaining all the profits that, in principle, should be for the person who executed the relevant industrial design in the first place. Thus, the main purpose of this protection is to be able to make the industrial design economically profitable; the product is to obtain the corresponding profits derived from its commercialization.

However, it takes more than a simple procedure to protect industrial property. It requires an investigation of registration possibilities or impediments, the monitoring of protected designs, and the defense of a company’s rights in case of infringement of those rights by third parties. All this can only be done reliably through a specialized agency.


To register the design, it must be:

  • New: it means that no identical design must have been made public before the filing of the application for registration of this current one.

  • Singular: when the impression that the industrial design produces in the person who sees it is different from the impression that a similar or dissimilar design may have produced on a previous occasion.

Some exclusions

Not all designs can be protected as industrial designs. Official emblems, for example, such as national flags, are excluded.

How much does it cost and how long does it take?

According to the EUIPO:

When you apply for a Registered Community Design (RCD), you must pay the registration fee at the same time as you apply. The fee starts at €350 for one design.

Optionally, you can defer the publication of your design for up to a maximum of 30 months from the filing date. Where the application includes a request for deferment, the €40 deferment fee replaces the publication fee. This way, your design remains unpublished and secret. This buys you time to further develop your business strategy.

An RCD is valid for 5 years. It can be renewed for a maximum of 25 years, 5 years at a time.”

Is it international?

Not exactly. The designs will be protected in the European Union, although it is possible to register them internationally through industrial property agencies, according to existing agreements on this matter between European countries and other regions. There are 2 ways of handling these registrations:

  1. Through community design, which allows you to have design protection in 27 EU states.

  2. And through international design, achieving protection in 79 member states of the Hague Agreement.

Other reasons to protect industrial designs

Some of the most important reasons are:

  • They constitute a mark of officialdom, prestige, and quality.

  • It is a good way to guarantee that the industrial design in question is not a copy of any other.

  • It prevents someone else from appropriating it, commercializing it, and obtaining economic gains on their own.

  • It can be a strategy in competition with other companies in the market. Other companies are forced to make a design different from the one offered by our company.

  • The protected industrial design can be sold to another company through a license and payment of a specific amount.

  • It promotes creativity and encourages the market to be enriched with a variety of products in shapes, colors, textures… It increases diversity and avoids monotony.

What is the Locarno Classification for?

The Locarno Agreement is an international classification used for the registration of industrial designs.

Nothing happens if the industrial design is registered without specifying the above classification. This classification is of interest more at the search level. Its main benefit is to facilitate the classification, and retrieval after a search, of industrial designs with certain characteristics.

New editions are made every two years, as it is kept up to date periodically. They are available online only. There is a series of numerical categories, select the desired one and click on the link of interest among the classifications of products and industrial designs of which you want to see information and photos.

Austin K
Austin K
I'm Austin K., a passionate writer exploring the world of News, Technology, and Travel. My curiosity drives me to delve into the latest headlines, the cutting-edge advancements in tech, and the most breathtaking travel destinations. And yes, you'll often find me with a Starbucks in hand, fueling my adventures through the written word

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