OHIM introduces electronic search for Community designs

European Union

The Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) has introduced a search facility for Community designs, thus enabling applicants and practitioners to monitor applications without resorting to reading the entire Community Design Bulletin, whose seven issues published since registrations started in April contain thousand of designs.

Designs can now be searched by:

  • applicant;

  • representative;

  • designer;

  • filing or registration numbers;

  • date;

  • Locarno Classification; and

  • indication of product.

Boolean logic combinations (ie, using 'or', 'and' and 'not') can be used by selecting the 'Community Designs Bulletin' and 'advance search' options.

The search facility will benefit agents and applicants, who can track their own applications - something that had proved difficult during the early days of the Community design system. It will also make simple name searches possible, thus enabling applicants to watch and search the portfolios of named competitors.

However, general watching and clearance searching remain difficult. Searching on the basis of the Locarno Classification and indication of product cannot be regarded as exhaustive, since neither limits the scope of protection of a Community design. Embedded text, colour or aspects of a design's shape cannot be searched.

To fill the gap, private search firms are offering watching services. Trademark Directory Services will launch its watch service on August 1. RWS, which offers national design search and watch services, is understood to be planning to launch a similar product in the near future.

David C Musker, RGC Jenkins & Co, London

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