Two-dimensional shapes such as fabric patterns or three-dimensional shapes such as dishes, furniture, and shop fittings can be protected as a so-called design. For this purpose, the deposit of a representation of the design itself, or a drawing of a three-dimensional object is required in order to obtain protection for commercial use, thus reproduce and distribute in the particular area in which the design is given.
A prerequisite for the design protection is that at time of registration each design is new and has individual character. A design shall be considered new if no identical design has been made available to the public before the date of filing of the application for registration. Furthermore, the design needs to have an individual character. This legal feature is defined as the overall impression it produces on the informed user, which differs from the overall impression produced on such a user by any design which has been made available to the public before the date of filing of the application for registration.
The registration of a design by the respective office is made, however, without examining the novelty or the individual character in the Federal Republic of Germany and the European Union. In the regulation on the legal protection of designs for the European Union and / or the German Design Act it is determined that for the owner of a registered design the statutory presumption is given, that this pattern at time of application was new and had individual character. This legal presumption is rebuttable, which means that in case of judicial proceeding regarding the dispute of a design, one party may prove the lack of novelty and or individual character. The lack of novelty may be proven with older images, magazines or sales catalogues. The lack of uniqueness is demonstrated by presenting similar patterns, previously in use.