A design protects the given form, but not the technical conception. A design is supposed to appeal to the sense of aesthetics.
The design protects creations showing a new and unique form and is deemed new if, before the date of application, no identical form has been disclosed. Designs being deemed identical if characteristic features differ only in negligible details. In assessing the novelty, the decisive criterion is the comparison of the characteristics of the juxtaposed designs. If their essential properties are identical, there is a lack of novelty. A design has an individual character if the overall impression it creates in the informed user differs from the overall impression left by another design that has been disclosed before the date of application.
In assessing the novelty and individual character of the design, any proper disclosures of the designer or his legal successor are not taken into account within a delay of 12 months before the day of application. During this period, the entitled person can e.g. test his design on the market with the design being protected as an unregistered Community design and the entitled person being able to defend himself against any imitation of this unregistered Community design.
Designs are registered without examination regarding novelty and individual character. Instead, the protection is constituted with the entry into the design register. Unlike an application of a patent or utility model, the submission of a design does not require any description of the design or the formulation of any claims. In principle, photos or graphical representations of the design are submitted.
The design registration lasts for five years but it can be renewed four times giving a maximum total of 25 years of protection by payment of a renewal fee, respectively.
As far as a design protection abroad is intended, subsequent applications have to be filed within half a year from submission of the first application in order to make sure that these subsequent applications, with respect to their protectability, are treated as if they had been submitted on the day of submission of the first application.