EU Intellectual Property Law and Policy

EU Intellectual Property Law and Policy

Second Edition

Elgar European Law series

Catherine Seville

Intellectual property remains not just economically significant, but also of daily importance to most businesses and individuals. The digital age brings many opportunities, but also presents continuing challenges to IP law, and the EU’s programme of harmonisation unfolds in this context. Taking account of numerous changes, the second edition of this accessible book offers a fully updated account of the law as it affects all the major rights, free movement and competition matters, and enforcement. It sets the substantive law in its policy context, and discusses potential reforms to this major area of EU law.

Chapter 4: Designs

Catherine Seville

Subjects: law - academic, european law


‘Design’ is a term which refers to the appearance and composition of an article, and to any preliminary drawings or models used. It is a hugely important aspect of the way we choose to live our lives, though this can sometimes be unacknowledged and unappreciated. Design touches a vast range of fields, for example product design, packaging design, web design, software design, graphic design, theatrical design, colour design, architectural design, automotive design, environmental design, fashion design, furniture design, garden design, industrial design, interior design and urban design. As a widely based concept, covering both playful and functional designs, it presents a challenge to intellectual property law. How should such things be protected, if at all? If a design can be thought of as a work of art, then copyright protection is perhaps appropriate. But design protection is also demanded for industrial products, especially the aspects of shape and pattern which make them distinctive. If an item is mass produced, should the designer or manufacturer be able to prevent others from producing a similar design? Should it make a difference whether the design has been copied or arrived at independently? And what sort of protection is appropriate? One problem is that it may be difficult to separate the functional and the aesthetic aspects of a design. If something is entirely functional, like a petrol engine, but not sufficiently inventive to justify a patent, there is little reason for granting monopoly rights over it.

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