The General Court of the European Union recently issued a ruling on an action involving the legal protection of an EU design, known as a Community design. The action related to the registration of a handbag designed by Yves St Laurent. The Swedish retailer for clothes, H&M, applied for the registration to be annulled on the basis that the design had no individual character and that the bag was far too similar to already existing designs.

The General Court found that the issue of individual character should not be judged on the basis of an average purchaser, but rather the assessment should be made based on the overall impression the design makes on a particularly informed user. In the case in question, an “informed female user” corresponded to such a user. The General Court found that the application for annulment should be rejected and stated that the contested design produced a new overall impression for an informed female user, compared with existing designs.