The United States has completed its last step in the membership process to become a Member of the Hague Union after the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) deposited its instrument of ratification to the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs (“Hague Agreement “).
The Hague Agreement will allow U.S. applicants to file a single international design application either with WIPO in Geneva, Switzerland, or the USPTO to obtain protection in multiple jurisdiction rather than filing different applications for each jurisdiction. The improved efficiency under the Hague system will have potential cost saving benefits for future applicants in their requests for protection of their industrial designs. The USPTO will soon publish the Finals Rules in the Federal Registrar governing the USPTO examination process of international design applications pursuant to the Hague Agreement and the Final Rules are expected to go in effect on May 13, 2015. Accordingly, design patents filed on or after that date will have a 15-year term.
South Korea recently joined the Hague system and Japan will become a member around the same time as the United States. Other countries like Canada, China, and Russia have shown interesting in joining as well. We can expect the Hague system to rapidly expand within the next few years.