DESIGN | The General Court on the assessment of individual character

On 10 April 2024, the General Court (GC) handed down its judgment in case T‑654/22 (M&T 1997, a.s. v EUIPO), concerning the invalidity of a registered Community design (RCD) for door and window handles due to the lack of distinctive character. The claimant sought the annulment of the EUIPO Board of Appeal’s decision, stating that the design did not have individual character since it did not produce, in the handle sector, a different overall impression on the informed user from that produced by the earlier design (“Decision”). The GC stated that the individual character of a design results from an overall impression of difference from the point of view of an informed user in relation to any previous presence in the design corpus, but the overall impression produced on the informed user by a design must necessarily be determined in the light of the manner in which the product in question is normally used. In light of these principles, the GC pointed out that the rounded shape of the RCD results in a softening of the lines of the neck and grip, which has a significant effect both on the overall appearance and on the ease of use of the door handle. Therefore, the Court annulled the Decision.

Newsletter n. 96 – May 2024