A new European Trade Mark and Design Network publication sets out the first Common Practice for use when filing graphic representations of designs (CP6). The press release can be found here. It has been simultaneously published on the websites of all implementing offices and is considered to be the first milestone in the harmonisation of design practices and the beginning of a continuous collaboration between the IP Offices in the designs arena.

Whilst there are certain issues outside the scope of the Common Practice, such as priority, number of views, and verbal disclaimers, the Common Practice provides guidance and certain criteria to consider when assessing the requirements of a correct graphic representation. Such guidance includes: (i) how to use the appropriate visual disclaimers; (ii) types of views; and (iii) how to represent designs in a neutral background. There is also an overview as a result of a benchmarking study of the quality standards for applications received by both paper and electronic means. Whilst the publication is a positive move in the convergence of practice, it should be noted that it is not intended to give advice on the scope of protection given to a design.  

The European Trade Mark and Design Network aims to harmonise the difference in practices between local national offices and the European Union IPO, whilst also allowing for a flexible system of design registration for users. Though the areas outside the scope of the Common Practice would arguably benefit from further harmonisation, the Common Practice aims to further increase transparency and legal certainty. Through providing further direction, it should benefit both users and examiners by reducing uncertainty around examination procedures.

The Common Practice will take effect within three months of the publication date of 15 April 2016.