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Appeal against invalidity of door handle design dismissed

The EU General Court has dismissed an appeal against an EUIPO Board of Appeal decision to declare the design of a door handle invalid for lack of individual character under Article 6(1)(b) of the Community Design Regulation (6/2002/EC) as it created the same overall impression on the informed user as an earlier published design.

The court held that the board had properly assessed the degree of freedom in the design field and was entitled to find that there was almost unlimited freedom in the design of door handles, which could come in any combination of colours, patterns, shapes and materials. It had correctly observed that the groove featured on the contested design, which divided the handle into two parts, although different from the earlier design, only covered a small area and was quite simple, so would have only a slight effect on the impression given by the overall design.

It was clear that the design differences relied on by the owner of the contested design concerned points of detail that would not be noticed by non-expert users, and that the impression given by the design was in all respects identical to that given by the earlier design. Consequently, the board’s decision had been correct.

Case: Gamet SA v EUIPO, Case T-306/16, 5 July 2017 (Curia).

Practical Law Company 7.7.17