The designer of a design may obtain protection against use through an unregistered Community design or through a registered Community design.
An application for registration of a Community design may be filed with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), with the central industrial property office of a Member State, or with the Benelux Trademark Office. To be eligible for protection, designs must be new and must have an individual character, i.e. it must be apparent to the public that they are different from previously existing products.
Unregistered designs must meet the same criteria as registered ones in order to enjoy protection. This protection is applicable from the date of disclosure of the design to the public within the European Union and lasts for three years. The main difference in the protection afforded is that a registered Community design is protected against both deliberate copying and the independent development of a similar design, whereas an unregistered design is protected only against deliberate copying.
A Community design has a unitary character. It has equal effect throughout the European Union. It shall not be registered, transferred or surrendered or be the subject of a declaring it invalid, nor shall its use be prohibited, save in respect of the whole European Union.
Several designs may be grouped together in a multiple application. The designs of a multiple application must belong to the same class of goods.
The representation of the design should consist of a photographic or other graphic reproduction of the design, either in black and white or in colour. The design must be reproduced on a neutral background and may not be retouched with ink or correction fluid.