Designing for the European Green Deal: A Supplementary Protection Regime for Circular Designs in the EU

Dana Beldiman*, Anna Tischner, Stina Teilmann-Lock

*Corresponding author af dette arbejde

Publikation: Working paperForskning


This article examines the existing industrial design regime in light of the principles of the circular economy embodied in the EU’s EcoDesign legislation. It is in line with the growing volume of scholarly literature that deals with the intersection of IP laws and social considerations, in the broader context of sustainability, environment and climate.
The concept of circularity is rooted in social and environmental policy. Circularity refers to modifying human behaviour in the contexts of production and consumption for the sake of closing, slowing or narrowing resource loops. This implies a shift towards products that are designed for longevity, repair and reuse and the elimination of waste and carbon emissions. These ultimately social goals are part of the political aims to adapt to and mitigate the effects of the climate crisis for the benefit of humanity. In this context, we venture to inquire whether a purely economic regulation, such as design law, can accommodate these social goals.
The article considers ways in which design law may play a proactive role in moving towards a circular economy and investigates what modifications and rebalancing of interests may be required towards this goal.
Two essential aspects of the sui generis EU design law are addressed: whether the definition of the ‘object of protection’ is sufficiently capacious to include circular features and whether social considerations may justify a rebalancing in favour of enhanced access. In response to the latter question, we propose a supplementary design law regime tailored to the needs of the circular economy. Its main doctrinal sources include recent contributions to the scholarly debate on liability rules, in combination with principles inspired by the European unregistered design system. A variety of business models for circular designs already show a way forward and may be reinforced by the supplementary protection regime proposed, without requiring major changes in European design law.
UdgiverSSRN: Social Science Research Network
Antal sider26
StatusUdgivet - 2023