The first is the Four-Step form, aimed at fast tracking design applications through to registration within two days of filing. It is a simplified form that allows applicants to obtain enforceable registered rights in a matter of days and with minimal fuss, which is no doubt attractive to rights holders. However, because it is a stripped back process, applicants do not enjoy the full flexibility that designs offer.
The second is the Advanced form which is geared towards more complex applications. In contrast to the Four-step form, applicants using the Advanced form can take advantage of all the features of the Community design system.
Both forms also incorporate a new feature that allows applicants to upload 3D representations of their designs. The representations can be manipulated so that they can be viewed from multiple angles and distances, and static snapshots can be taken so that up to seven protected views (and three unprotected views) can be created. When the design is published, the 3D representations will appear on the OHIM's online register. Interested parties will be able to manipulate the 3D representations which in turn will help them form a better understanding of the features of the design and how the static views relate to each other. Presently, the OHIM will only accept OBJ, STL and X3D files for 3D representations.
The other notable feature of the new online forms is the ability to file up to three unprotected views of a design (as mentioned above), in addition to the seven protected views. The additional views help identify the features of a design and can form part of a convention priority claim for a subsequent application elsewhere.
The uploading of 3D representations is a radical departure from the traditional way of representing designs as a series of images. To the best of our knowledge, it is the first time an Intellectual Property office has permitted use of 3D representations in this way and it is pleasing to see the OHIM adopt this type of technology.
It may even pave the way for more flexibility in the way non-traditional trade marks are filed and registered. Currently, trade marks must be represented graphically in order to be eligible for registration. For instance, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare that we so often hear at the cinema is registered as a Community Trade Mark by reference to a visual waveform (satisfying the graphical representation requirement) and a link to the sound itself.
With the graphical representation requirement soon to be removed from EU trade mark legislation (see our previous article on EU trade mark reforms), we could see a future where sound marks are accepted as audios file only and shape marks – of course – in the 3D form that designs can now be submitted.