The term “Geschmacksmuster” (“aesthetic model”) was formerly used for designs in Germany. The German legislation no longer uses this term, however, and instead now refers to “Designrechten” (“design rights”).

A design right is an IP right which gives the proprietor protection for a limited period for an aesthetic two- or three-dimensional design of a product, as a whole or in part. The protected appearance may be characterised by the contours, lines, colours, surface structures, materials or decorative elements of the product. The maximum term of protection for a design is 25 years.

Design rights are not examined. This means that the office merely checks that the formal requirements of a design application are satisfied. Nevertheless, it is possible to make a number of mistakes in a design application. The crucial factor with a design application is what is shown in the drawings or images submitted to the office, as this alone will define the scope of protection of the resulting design right.

Our extensive experience in design application procedures, as well as in defending and enforcing registered and non-registered design rights is invaluable when it comes to advice and preparation with regard to design applications. Design applications should be drawn up by specialist attorneys who have experience in the enforcement of design rights and who are therefore able to avoid errors in the registration of a design which cannot be corrected in a future lawsuit.

An application for the protection of a design can be filed as either a German design application or a Community design application, the latter affording protection throughout the European Union. Designs filed as international registrations and/or as national applications all over the world are also possible within a short space of time with the help of our international network.

Cancellation proceedings offer a means for a registered design of a competitor to be attacked and cancelled. Our lawyers will support you in successfully defending your rights in disputes and counterclaims. They have the necessary expertise in this regard from their extensive experience in legal disputes.

In preparation for registering a design or for cancellation proceedings, our attorneys can also perform the necessary searches with respect to the novelty and uniqueness of either your own design applications intended for registration and/or those of others when the aim is cancellation.

Moreover, we also offer an on-going monitoring service of new applications registered by your competitors and of product ranges relating to registered designs. A design right also offers you the opportunity to instigate border seizure proceedings and, where appropriate, associated lawsuits against parties infringing your design.

Our highly experienced patent attorneys and lawyers are able to represent you in all matters relating to design rights before the competent authorities and courts.

For more details, see also border seizures.

Franz Stangl | Partner and Head of Litigation Department
Ralf Peckmann | Partner and Patent Attorney