Brussels, 14th March 2024

Fostering a digital-forward approach, the European Union’s updated framework on the protection of designs signals a proactive step towards modernisation, a move warmly welcomed by the Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI). However, FESI fears that the significant rise in registration fees introduced by the reform voted today in the Parliament, will make it more difficult for certain companies, particularly SMEs, to protect their designs, and could open the door to counterfeiters.

“A robust EU framework on design protection is imperative, providing a shield against infringement and fostering an environment conducive to creativity and investment. It’s not just about preserving individual designs; it’s about safeguarding the very essence of innovation that propels our industry forward. As FESI President, I advocate for a framework that champions innovation but also ensures a level playing field for all stakeholders.” – Neil Narriman, President of FESI and General Counsel & Senior Global Director Intellectual Property at PUMA.

Designs are essential for the sporting goods industry as they add aesthetics to common objects and can therefore stimulate consumers’ engagement in sport and physical activity. Safeguarding designs and obtaining intellectual property rights through registration is therefore paramount, empowering companies and designers to protect themselves against imitators and counterfeiters seeking to profit at the expense of brands’ creativity and investments.

For these reasons, FESI warmly welcomed the Commission’s proposed revision of the Designs Directive and Regulation, in particular the clarification around the definitions of “product” and “design”, reinforcement of design rights enforceability, new safeguards against unauthorised 3D printing, and facilitation of multiple applications.

Nevertheless, FESI remains concerned about divergences from the Commission’s original objectives of “quicker, cheaper, and more predictable” design registration. In the final version of the agreement voted on today in plenary, co-legislators decided to almost double the registration fees proposed by the Commission, hence reaching record amounts for renewal registrations of up to 700 euros per design. To maintain the protection of their designs over time, brand owners are obliged to submit several renewal applications for their entire product portfolio. These new amounts therefore seem somewhat disproportionate and risk creating counterproductive effects, particularly for the smallest companies, which account for almost 85% of FESI’s membership.


About FESI: Founded in 1960 FESI, the Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry, is the unique pre-competitive platform representing the interests of the sporting goods industry in Europe, advancing its members’ priorities and promoting initiatives that benefit the sector, EU citizens and the society as a whole. FESI represents the interests of approximately 1.800 sporting goods manufacturers (85% of the European market) through its National Sporting Goods Industry Federations and its directly affiliated member companies. 70-75% of FESI’s membership is made up of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises. In total, the European Sporting Goods Industry employs over 700.000 EU citizens and has an annual turnover of some 81 billion euro.

Media contact: Ariane Gatti – FESI Communication & Policy Manager / [email protected] / +32 (0) 2 762 86 48