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Protection of Industrial Design in the United States and in the EU: Different Concepts or Different Labels?



Industrial designs matter. It is undisputed that design is crucial for the success of a product. That is why companies are using intellectual property laws in an effort to protect their industrial design. This article will describe how intellectual property laws can protect design and compare the design protection regime in the United States and the EU. The comparison will show that design protection is significantly different in the United States and the EU. Within the EU, further harmonization is needed in order to provide for a strong coherent design protection. The paper will point out that the ubiquitous requirement of non-functionality outside the realm of utility patent law in the United States is no longer appropriate in a world where the most successful designs purposefully combine functional and aesthetic elements.