UK ratifies Hague Agreement for industrial designs


UK ratifies Hague Agreement for industrial designs

On 13 March 2018, the UK government completed the final ratification step for the UK to join the Hague Agreement for industrial designs.  The agreement will come into effect on 13 June 2018.  From this date, it will be possible to designate the UK and obtain registered design protection in the UK directly via the Hague System.

This is good news for designers who will be able to use the Hague System to secure international design protection covering both the UK and the EU, even after the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.

At present, it is possible to protect a design in the UK and the EU via a single registered Community design.  However, this route will be closed once the UK leaves the EU since the UK will no longer be covered by registered Community design protection.  The Hague System will provide a solution to this issue by once again enabling designs to be protected by a single registration that covers both the UK and the EU.

What is the Hague System?

The Hague System provides a cost-effective way to secure international registered design protection in the countries that are signed up to the agreement.  At present, there are 67 contracting countries (shown here), including the US, Japan, Russia and the European Union.  More countries, such as China and Canada, are set to join in the near future.

Who can use the Hague System?

The system is only available to those that are a national of, domiciled in or have a real and effective industrial or commercial establishment in a Hague Agreement contracting country.

What can be protected?

The design (appearance) of almost any product, graphic symbol, graphical user interface (GUI) or logo.

 What is the procedure?

  • A single international registered design application is filed with the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).
  • An international application can cover up to 100 different designs, provided that the designs all fall under the same class (i.e. the designs are related to similar products).
  • WIPO only checks that the formal requirements are met – there is no search or substantive examination to check the novelty or individual character of a design.
  • Substantive examination is carried out only in those countries where this is a requirement (e.g. US).
  • WIPO registers the design(s) centrally if there are no objections from the offices in the designated countries, or once any objections have been overcome.

How long does an international design registration last?

An international design registration provides an initial 5 year term of protection from the filing date.  A single renewal fee can be paid every 5 years to renew the registration for a total of 15 years.  The term of protection is longer when permitted by national law (e.g. 25 years for the UK or the EU).

What are the benefits of using the Hague System?

  • A single international design registration covers any or all of the Hague Agreement contracting countries – more cost-effective than filing separate design applications in each country.
  • One renewal fee to renew the international registration – as opposed to separate renewal fees in each country.
  • No need to prepare translations for different countries – just one language required for an international application; English, French or Spanish.
  • Hague System minimises the risk of running into formalities objections (and the associated costs) since it is not possible for national offices to object to an international design application for formal reasons.
  • As of 13 June 2018, the Hague System will enable designs to be protected in the UK and the EU via a single international registration, even after the UK leaves the EU.