The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has issued a pivotal decision in the case involving The KaiKai Company Jaeger Wichmann GbR (KaiKai) and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), clarifying the interpretation of the right of priority for the registration of Community designs. The controversy arose when KaiKai applied for the registration of twelve Community designs, claiming a right of priority based on an international patent application previously filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). The EUIPO examiner denied this right of priority, arguing that the timeframe for exercising such a right had exceeded the six-month limit stipulated by Article 41(1) of Regulation No 6/2002.

KaiKai appealed this decision to the General Court (GC), which initially interpreted Regulation No 6/2002 in conjunction with Article 4 of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, incorrectly concluding that an international patent application could underpin a right of priority for the registration of a Community design within a twelve-month period. However, the CJEU overturned this judgment of the GC, clarifying that Regulation No 6/2002 is exhaustive and specific in limiting the right of priority to previous applications of designs and utility models, explicitly excluding patent applications and establishing an immovable six-month period for claiming such a right.

This decision underscores the importance of precise interpretation of EU laws and international treaties, ensuring that the protection of intellectual property within the European Union remains coherent and predictable. The ruling emphasizes that international applications filed under the PCT related to utility models can give rise to a right of priority for Community designs, but strictly within the six-month timeframe, thus reinforcing the principles of legal certainty and respect for established regulations.

JUDGMENT OF THE COURT (Grand Chamber) 27 February 2024 – Case C 382/21 P