The Protection of Community Design in the European Union

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Summary – The company that incurs into a counterfeiting of its Community design shall not start as many disputes as are the countries where the infringement has been carried out: it will be sufficient to start a lawsuit in just one court of the Union, in its capacity as Community design court, and get a judgement against a counterfeiter enforceable in different, or even all, Countries of the European Union.


Italian companies are famous all over the world thanks to their creative abilities regarding both industrial inventions and design: in fact, they often make important economic investments in order to develop innovative solutions for the products released on the market.

Such investments, however, must be effectively protected against cases of counterfeiting that, unfortunately, are widely spread and ever more realizable thanks to the new technologies such as the e-commerce. Companies must be very careful in protecting their own products, at least in the whole territory of the European Union, since counterfeiting inevitably undermines the efforts made for the research of an original product.

In this respect the content of a recent judgement issued by the Court of Milan, section specialized in business matters, No. 2420/2020, appears very significant since it shows that it is possible and necessary, in case of counterfeiting (in this case the matter is the counterfeiting of a Community design) to promptly take a legal action, that is to start a lawsuit to the competent Court specialized in business matters.

The Court, by virtue of the EU Regulation No. 6/2002, will issue an order (an urgent and protective remedy ante causam or a judgement at the end of the case) effective in the whole European territory so preventing any extra UE counterfeiter from marketing, promoting and advertising a counterfeited product.

The Court of Milan, in this specific case, had to solve a dispute aroused between an Italian company producing a digital flowmeter, being the subject of a Community registration, and a competitor based in Hong Kong. The Italian company alleged that the latter had put on the European market some flow meters in infringement of a Community design held by the first.

First of all, the panel of judges effected a comparison between the Community design held by the Italian company (plaintiff) and the flow meter manufactured and distributed by the Hong Kong company (defendant). The judges noticed that the latter actually coincided both for dimensions and proportions with the first so that even an expert in the field (the so-called informed user) could mistake the product of the defendant company with that of the plaintiff company owner of the Community design.

The Court of Milan, in its capacity as Community designs court, after ascertaining the counterfeiting, in the whole European territory, carried out by the defendant at the expense of the plaintiff, with judgement No. 2420/2020 prohibited, by virtue of articles 82, 83 and 89 of the EU Regulation No. 6/2002, the Hong Kong company to publicize, offer for sale, import and market, by any means and methods, throughout the European Union, even through third parties, the flow meter subject to the present judgement, with any name if presenting similar characteristics.

The importance of this judgement lies in its effects spread all over the territory of the European Union. This is not a small thing since the company that incurs into a counterfeiting of its Community design shall not start as many disputes as are the countries where the infringement has been carried out: it will be sufficient for this company to start a lawsuit in just one court of the Union, in its capacity as Community design court, and get a judgement against a counterfactor who makes an illicit in different, or even all, Countries of the European Union.

Said judgement will be even more effective if we consider that, by virtue of the UE Customs Regulation No. 608/2013, the company will be able to communicate the existence of a counterfeited product to the customs of the whole European territory (through a single request filed with the customs with the territorial jurisdiction) in order to have said products blocked and, in case, destroyed.

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Christian Montana
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