Logo Guide to Business in Spain

5Industrial designs

5.1 What are industrial designs?

Industrial designs are industrial property rights that protect the aesthetic appearance of goods rather than their functional novelty. Therefore, the owner of an industrial design has exclusive rights in the appearance of the whole or part of a product (in particular, the lines, contours, colors, shape, texture or materials of the product itself or its ornamentation), if it is novel and has individual character.

5.2 What is novelty and individual character?

A design is considered to meet the novelty requirement if no other identical design has been made available to the public beforehand. Two designs are deemed to be identical where they only differ in irrelevant aspects.

As far as individual character is concerned, a design is considered to have individual character if the overall impression it produces on the informed user differs from the overall impression produced by any design that has been made available to the public beforehand.

5.3 How can you obtain protection in a design?

At present there are three procedures through which designs may be protected:

  • Spanish system.
  • Community designs.
  • International system.

5.4 How do you obtain a Spanish design?

Industrial designs are filed at the SPTO. The application process can take approximately between 6 and 10 months.

The most relevant feature includes the so-called “grace period”, which consists of a 12-month period during which the disclosure of the design by its author or a related third party does not jeopardize the possibility of registration by its lawful owner. The aim of this grace period is to grant the owner of the design a term before registration without such term destroying its novelty.

Once the design has been granted, the owner is entitled to use it and to obtain relief should any third party use it after its grant has been published.

5.5 How long does a Spanish design last?

Registration is granted for a period of 5 years from the filing date, renewable for further 5-year periods up to a maximum of 25 years.

5.6 How do you obtain a Community design?

Community designs are protected in the European Union by Council Regulation 6/20024.

The essential feature of the Community design system is the recognition of exclusive rights throughout the EU, via a dual system of protection: registered and unregistered designs. In both cases the design must meet the requirements of novelty and individual character.

A registered community design is filed at the OHIM. The application process is very fast, it can take six days, but there is not a fixed term for third parties opposition.

Once granted confers its owner the exclusive right to use and prevent use of said design by unauthorized third parties.

5.7 How long does a Community design last?

Registration is granted for a period of 5 years from the filing date, renewable for further 5-year periods up to a maximum of 25 years.

5.8 What does an unregistered Community design consist of?

An unregistered Community design is a form of protection under Community legislation, through which rights are acquired automatically without the need for filing, simply by disclosing the products to which the design is applied.

Protection of an unregistered Community design is restricted to a period of three years form the date on which the design was first made available to the public within the EU. These types of designs are particularly advantageous for those commercial sectors, such as the fashion industry, which produce short-lived designs and in which the three-year protection period without the need for registration is sufficient and reasonable.

5.9 How do you obtain an international design?

There is an international registration system consisting of filing the application at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), pursuant to the Hague Agreement.

Through this treaty nationals of the contracting states of the Hague Agreement can obtain protection for their designs in all those states by filing those designs —or a graphic reproduction pursuant to WIPO requirements— at WIPO’S headquarters in Geneva.

A single application is sufficient to protect the design in the member States, subject to the conditions envisaged in each national legislation.

The European Union’s accession to the Hague Agreement on January 1, 2008, means that the applicants of an international design may designate the 28 EU Member States with a single application and also base the application for an international design on a Community design. This is aimed at simplifying registration procedures, reducing the costs deriving from the international protection of designs and simplifying the management of such rights.

Spanish is one of the working languages of The Hague System, which means on the one hand that it is an excellent tool for the international protection of Spanish companies’ designs, and on the other acts as an incentive to attract more Spanish-speaking Member States to the System.

4 Council Regulation (EC) No 6/2002 of 12 December 2001 on Community designs.