Patents in Europe

I have finally gotten over my reservations about the cost of patenting here in the sates, but I’d like to know if anyone has a general picture of whether designers use patent protection much in Europe.

The way I figure it, China will rip me off whether I have a patent or not and it is vastly more expensive to get EU patents.

I keep looking at designer stuff from Europe and thinking “That is so simple, what prevents people from copying it in any one of a dozen countries in the EU?”

Has anyone worked over there?

It seems like your money is better spent on brand identity so the knockoffs are shunned from reputable retailers.