Following the narrow interpretation of what consitutes a "different overall impression" earlier this year there appears to be a further erosion of the strength of a Community Registered Design (CRD).
A recent case regarding plastic balls for tumble dryers has clarified that any pre-dating design, no matter what field of industry, can be used to destroy the novelty of a design and thus provide an opportunity to invalidate the registered design.
Obviously, this widens the scope of what represents prior art and is compounded by the numerous states that the CDR encompasses. In this case a massage ball was used to invalidate the CDR for the tumble dryer ball.
I believe this makes product clearence searches for pre-existing designs almost impossible to do without significant risk.
However, if a Patent is not available or is too expensive then CDR and UK registered designs are still the next best protection despite the erosion.
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