Trademark Law

German government proposes amendments to Designs Act

The German government has published proposals to amend Germany’s Designs Act. The language of the current act will be adapted to international parlance and a new procedure for challenging the validity of designs will be introduced.

German government proposes amendments to Designs Act ©-Thomas-Jansa-Fotolia

German government proposes amendments to Designs Act ©-Thomas-Jansa-Fotolia

Up-to-date language

The German government’s proposal will modify the language of the current act, entitled Federal Act for the Protection of Designs and Models, to include the words “eingetragenes Design”, i.e. “registered design”. The name of the act will also be amended to “Designgesetz” – Designs Act.

Challenging the validity of a design

In addition to modifying the language of the act, the proposal foresees the introduction of a new procedure under which the validity of registered designs can be challenged.

Under the proposal, the German Patent and Trademark Office will be given the power to decide as to the validity of a registered design.

Previously, the validity of a design, giving the owner exclusive industrial property protection over the aesthetics of a product (e.g. design, colour and form), could only be challenged before the regional courts.

Passing decision making powers to the German Patent and Trademark Office means the procedure becomes an administrative one and brings clear financial benefits. Invalidity applications in the future should cost around €300 as opposed to a more costly procedure before the regional courts.

The office will set up its own industrial designs department which will determine applications and declare designs invalid where necessary. Decisions will be taken by a panel consisting of three legally trained members and one technical expert.

The regional courts, however, will not be removed from the process entirely. Rather, they will become involved if the successful application to have a designed declared invalid is challenged.

Adoption of the Designs Act

The proposal will be debated by Germany’s upper house, the Bundesrat, on 20 September 2013. Provided no objections are raised, the new act should come into force on the first day of the third month after which it is officially published.

You can access the full proposal in German here.

Christian Solmecke is a partner at the law firm WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE. He is the author of numerous legal publications in the area of internet and IT law. He is also an associate lecturer for social media law at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

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