EU Design Law: How does it (not?) work?

European countries have long protected design via special Acts and about 20 years ago the EU-design system was added to give pan-EU design rights. Design laws aim to stimulate innovation, protect designers and further the development of new designs. But does design protection work? This seminar describes the effect of design protection via statistical and historical analyses of the experiences of the EU design system and of the previous Danish Design Act (Mønsterloven).


15.00 Welcome by Professor Jens Schovsbo, CIIR

15.10 - 15.40: Estelle Derclaye, Professor of intellectual property law, University of Nottingham

“An empirical analysis of the design case law of the EU Member States”

This paper empirically examines the substantive decisions on all types of design rights from the courts of the 28 Member States since the Design Directive and Design Regulation entered into force until August 2017 and tests several hypotheses. Firstly, it uses descriptive statistics to examine claimants’ relative use of the type of design right and the relationship between the type of design right as a function of the dimension of the design litigated upon. Secondly, the paper uses inferential statistics to analyse the presence of differences in the proportion of designs found valid and infringed as a function of the level of the courts, the type of design right, the dimension of design and the level of specialisation of the judges.

15.45 – 16.15: Stina Teilmann-Lock, CBS

“We Wanted More Arne Jacobsen Chairs but All We Got Was Boxes – Experiences from the Protection of Designs in Scandinavia from 1970 till the Directive”

The Nordic design laws, which were enacted in the 1970s, may be viewed as a forerunner for the EU system. This article sets the scene for the evolution of the Nordic Design Acts. Furthermore, it examines case law and registration practices to test how functional designs were de facto protected by the Design Act considering also the development in copyright law. It is concluded that the designers, thanks to whom there was “Danish Design”, made no or only marginal use of the registered designs system that had been put in place for them. The reasons for this failure are discussed and attributed to a combination of legal and cultural factors. Finally, the article reflects on the lessons learned and their implications for the on-going EU design law reform.

16.20 Discussion

17.00 The End


For participation in the seminar please use this registration form no later than 2 April 2019 , 16:00.