DesignWrites by Bird & Bird - December 2015

By Ewan Grist, Manon Rieger-Jansen



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EU: Yves Saint Laurent successfully defends the validity of its handbag design

On 10 September 2015, the General Court (GC) upheld the validity of a registered Community design (RCD) for a handbag owned by Yves Saint Laurent. In November 2011, OHIM’s Cancellation Division rejected H&M’s application, finding that the RCD was valid. H&M appealed but this was dismissed by OHIM’s Board of Appeal (BoA) in July 2013, which found that despite a number of similarities.


China: Partial designs of graphic user interfaces (GUIs) become protectable

A proposed change to Chinese patent law, allowing for the protection of partial designs including graphic user interfaces (GUIs), will be welcome news to the mobile phone and software industries. With the continuing rapid technological development in the mobile phone industry, coupled with intense competition for market share, the protection of GUIs displayed on communication and electronic products as industrial designs has recently become a hot topic in China.


UK: Webmarking of product designs to be introduced

The UK Government has announced that it will introduce changes to UK designs legislation to provide registered design owners with the option to mark their products with a website address as a means of providing public notice of their rights. As part of the UK Government’s design modernisation programme, the Government reviewed how registered design owners can mark their products so that they are able to enforce their rights more easily.


Community designs: Different scope of prior art for novelty and individual character?

The General Court (‘GC’) recently gave a controversial judgment in Group Nivelles v OHIM - Easy Sanitary Solutions B.V. (13 May 2015, T-15/13) in which the GC surprisingly distinguished between prior art eligible for a novelty attack and prior art eligible for an individual character attack. The case concerned a Registered Community Design (‘RCD’) for a specific shower drain registered by Easy Sanitary Solutions B.V. (ESS).


The Netherlands: Community designs, colourful even in black-and-white

In this case between Wibit-Sports GMBH and Aquaparx c.s. , the District Court in The Hague followed the General Court’s earlier ruling (Case T-68/10 Sphere Time v OHIM) that a registered Community design (‘RCD’) registered in black-and-white protects the owner against use of that design in any colour. Wibit-Sports, a company that produces inflatable water sports products, is the owner of various RCDs.


Q&A with leading British designer, Trunki

Trunki is a British company which has designed a range of innovative kids travel accessories. Trunki was founded by Rob Law MBE in 1997 after winning a university design competition. Since then, Trunki has gone on to collect a host of product and design awards, including several from Design Week, Mother and Baby, D & AD, Right Start, Practical Parenting and Nick Jr. Trunki currently sell their products in 97 countries worldwide and remain at the cutting edge of British design.


EU: General Court (GC) finds storm umbrella design to be valid

By overturning the decision of the Board of Appeal (‘BoA’) in Senz Technologies BV v OHIM and Implivia BV , the GC continues a recent tendency to accept a low threshold for individual character. In response to an invalidity action brought before OHIM by Implava, first the Examining Division and later the Board of Appeal (BoA) invalidated the RCDs belonging to Senz Technologies (‘Senz’) for asymmetric umbrellas designed to better withstand stormy weather.


U.S. Focus: On the design protection in the United States

Over the past decade, businesses and consumers in the U.S. have embraced design in all forms. The appearance of a well designed product might reflect and evoke innovation, identity, quality and care, and in these ways good design translates to market advantage. Intellectual property rights exist in product and software designs and are important assets for design innovators and entrepreneurs as well as market leaders.


UK: Repeal of Amendment to Increase Length of Copyright Protection of Industrially Manufactured Articles

The UK government has revoked the Commencement Order (Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013) that would have repealed section 52 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 in 2020. Section 52 currently limits copyright protection for artistic works which have been industrially manufactured.