OHIM, which administers the Community Designs, has a database called DesignView which enables many separate databases of registered designs, for the look of a product, to be searched at the same time.
At present 8 national offices plus Community Designs are included. Benelux and Spain are probably the biggest offices besides the Community Designs themselves, and the joining of larger offices such as France, Germany and the UK will be welcome. Already, anyone wanting to trace registrations by a company will find it useful.
There are drawbacks, though, if searching for a particular look. You have two options: classification, and keywords.
Classification is the Locarno Classification, where two numbers express the subject. Hence 14/02 is for “Data processing equipment as well as peripheral apparatus and devices”, and 21/01 is “Games and toys” – two massive areas. Already searches for those classes give 145 and 207 hits respectively. See the image below for the appearance of the search page. The classes have to be selected from a clicked open display.
You can add words in the “indication of the product” (title) field to narrow down the hits, but there are two problems with that. You have to guess at what words might be used in the title, and the actual titles are in the local languages. An exception is the Community Designs, where you can search in various European languages and it will retrieve relevant material, displaying the results with English titles.
In trying out a search for the words board game in Locarno 21/01 in the default "strict mode" I got just 3 hits. When I altered it to "contains mode" I got 150 – all relevant. The plural games was searched for, for a start.
Useful features are that you can ask to sort results by various criteria, and that as the cursor is moved it enlarges the image in the hitlist. Below is an example of the results page.
The UK’s national designs database does not permit searching by title, so its eventual addition to DesignView will be useful. Another aspect of the UK site is that it -- uniquely -- allows a third layer of the Locarno, as worked out the UK office, to be selected. This gives much more precision, and is why I always suggest that a novelty search in designs begins with the British designs. I think it unlikely that this ability will be used in DesignView, however.