The DesignEuropa Awards, organized by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), in collaboration with the Polish Patent Office (UPRP), celebrate excellence in design and design management among Registered Community Design (RCD) holders, whether they are individual right holders, small businesses or large enterprises. The Registered Community Design (RCD) is a unitary intellectual property right, valid in all 28 Member States of the EU, and administered by EUIPO.

The DesignEuropa Awards ceremony will take place on 27 November 2018, in the POLIN conference center in Warsaw. To, open up the awards, an Interview with Luis Berenguer Giménez, the Head of Communication Service and EUIPO spokesperson talks about prospective IP protection in the design industry and its potential impact.

Luis Berenguer Giménez, the Head of service and EUIPO spokesperson, has a Master’s degree in Business Law and Magister Lvcentinvs (specializing in Intellectual Property), he has worked as an IP lawyer putting IP legislation into practice – so has some interesting insights into the reforms. Luis is a fascinating expert, and has an abundance of knowledge on this subject.

What ideas can you offer on how to protect the design industry?

Obviously, we would urge designers and companies that use design to consider protecting their valuable business assets, either at national level (depending on their business need) or at EU level.

The Registered Community Design is an accessible, flexible intellectual property right which is valid in all 28 Member States of the EU. It’s valid from the date of filing, and can be renewed in blocks of five years up to a maximum of 25 years. Since it was introduced in 2003, we have received more than a million designs from companies and individuals all around the world.

The Community Design Regulation defines a design as “the appearance of the whole or a part of a product, resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, contours, shape, texture and/or materials of the product itself, and/or its ornamentation.” In practice, this means that almost any industrial or handcraft item can be eligible for design protection, except for computer programmes. So the RCD is a very useful IP right across a wide variety of industrial sectors.

At EUIPO we try to make the RCD application and registration process as straightforward as possible.  Most online filings are registered within a couple of days, for example, and our free, online design search and classification tools like Designview and Designclass further help users. Designview now contains nearly 14 million designs from 67 participating IP offices around the world, including those of China, the USA, Japan, Korea and all EU Member State national offices, or regional offices in the case of the Benelux.

Do you forecast a great increase in the RCD?

If past performance is an indicator, the RCD is proving its worth as a valuable tool for business. At EUIPO we see that RCD filings experienced an average annual growth rate of 4.3% between 2010 and 2017. They had an overall growth rate of 33.8% when comparing the 2017 and 2010 filing volumes.

When we look at where those filings are coming from, we see that the five largest EU economies (Germany, the UK, France, Italy and Spain) represent almost 53% of total direct RCD filings, while the world’s three largest economies, the United States of America, the People’s Republic of China and Japan, respectively occupy the third, sixth and ninth positions in the Top 10 ranking of countries with the most direct RCD filings.

We see a particularly strong RCD growth rate between 2010 and 2017 from China, with direct RCD filings increasing by 32.1% every year, and an overall growth rate of 522.6%. But we also see strong growth over that time period from Poland, which has an average growth rate of 9.4%, the leading direct filing rate among EU Member States.

What is the importance of design as a motor of economic growth?

From our research with the European Patent Office, we know that industries which intensively use design generate 13.4% of the EU’s GDP.

We also know that industries which intensively use design contributed more than 243 billion euros to the EU external trade balance in 2013. These are figures that bear witness to the importance of design.

Through our research we also see that SMEs that own designs have revenue per employee higher by over 17% in comparison to SMEs that do not own any IP rights.

SMEs that combine designs and patents have revenue per employee higher by 19,5%, while revenue per employee of SMEs combining trade mark and design protection is higher by almost 50% (47.6%).

Can design be used to generate jobs?

Again, I go back to our research with the EPO. We find that design-intensive industries support around 11.9% of all jobs in the EU.

So design is a motor of job creation, and we celebrate this through the DesignEuropa Awards, our flagship design awareness project at EUIPO. The aim of the awards is to raise awareness of the design protection system in the EU and to promote design as a valuable intellectual property right that underpins our economy and supports jobs.

If you look at our finalist designs in the DesignEuropa Awards, they all belong to companies which support jobs – in greater or smaller amounts, depending on the type of companies they are. But they all use design as a motor of growth for their businesses, and consequently for job creation.

Design is all around us, and with the DesignEuropa Awards we celebrate it, not just as something beautiful and aesthetically pleasing, but as a business asset, brought to the market with the protection of the RCD.