On 16 February 2023, the Board of Appeal of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (BoA)issued its decision in case R0878/2022-3 concerning the validity of a heating device for socks. The design at hand (the "Design") consists of a rectangular shape, with three press buttons and washing instructions. The validity of the Design was challenged on the following grounds: (i) as part of a complex product, the product incorporating the Design does not remain visible during the normal use of said complex product (Article 4 of Regulation (EC) No. 6/2002 of 12 December 2001 on Community designs); (ii) the Design was dictated only by technical functions (Article 8(1) of Regulation No. 6/2002); and (iii) part of the Design (i.e. the snap fasteners) consists of a must-fit element (Article 8(2) of Regulation No. 6/2002). The BoA dismissed the appeal and confirmed the validity of the Design as the relevant component of the complex product remains visible during normal use, which encompasses all the reasonable and logical usages of a complex product made by an end user (see decision C-472/21, commented herein). As for the other two grounds, the BoA observed that – in accordance with the Doceram decision – the features of the Design are not exclusively dictated by technical functions and that the snap fastener system claimed by the Design should not be considered as a must-fit element.

Originally published by March, 2023

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