The EU Design Approach
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The EU Design Approach

A Global Appraisal

Edited by Annette Kur, Marianne Levin and Jens Schovsbo

The EU’s ‘Design Approach’ represented a unique attempt to protect industrial design and designers in and on their own terms. It has now been in place for more than a decade and this book, including contributions from leading international scholars, takes stock and attempts to find out what became of the Design Approach: Is it still observed; what has it achieved; how does it interact with other areas of the law; what became of the spare parts problem and how did the world respond to it?
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Chapter 6: Design protection for products that are “dictated by function”

Jens Schovsbo and Graeme B. Dinwoodie


This chapter examines the responses of the EU design system to situations where just one or very few shapes will enable the product to work. It focuses on the exclusion of design protection of features that are “dictated by function” and the limits on protection for the design of spare parts. After describing the analytical starting point that flows from the so-called “EU Design Approach”, recent decisions of EU and national courts are analyzed. We argue that, even though the recent DOCERAM decision of the CJEU has provided a good starting point for determining those features of a design that are dictated by function, great care should be taken not to over-extend the principles of the case lest that jeopardize some basic features of the EU Design Approach. For spare parts, we suggest that legislation is needed and recommend the introduction of a repair clause in the EU Design Directive.

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