If registered designs are seen as being difficult to enforce, unregistered designs prove even less popular. By their very nature they are hard to pin down, meaning that proving validity can be a hurdle for designers before they even come to enforcement.
Designers will therefore welcome the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) recent decision in Case C-345/13, Karen Millen Fashions Ltd v Dunnes Stores (available here), which reminds us that unregistered designs can be an effective means of protecting new designs. In particular in the fast-paced world of fashion, where collections turn over at such a rate that there is often not time to register IP rights, the ECJ’s guidance on how to assess a design's ‘individual character’, and confirmation that those wishing to enforce unregistered Community design rights are not required to prove individual character, is good news for designers.
A reminder on designs