What you should know about the Hague Agreement

Today, May 13, 2015, the USA and Japan become contracting parties in the Hague System for international design registration.  This new system makes it easier to internationally register industrial designs.  To help introduce you to the new system and help you understand how it could affect your company’s strategy, we summarized coming changes in the following bullet points:
Application Process

– An application can contain up to 100 different industrial designs.

– The application is filed in one language with one set of fees at one location, either directly through the World Intellectual Property Organization or indirectly through the USPTO.

– Upon filing, the International Bureau of WIPO verifies that the necessary formal requirements are met and, if fulfilled, the application is given a filing date.

– Usually, the application is published 6 months after the filing date.

– Then, designated jurisdictions review the application to determine whether protection should be afforded based on their individual national laws.

– If, in turn, National IP Offices grant said applications, registrants in effect receive national protection.

– A company need only docket one renewal deadline.

Domestic Implications

– Domestically, design patents filed on or after May 13, 2015 will be entitled to a 15-year (as opposed to 14-year) term from issuance.

– Color drawings and photographs no longer require a petition and fee.

International Implications

– Internationally, an applicant can seek design protection in multiple jurisdictions with a single application.  Until now, U.S. applicants pursuing protection for industrial designs in multiple jurisdictions filed individual applications for each jurisdiction. The Hague system, on the other hand, manages international registration centrally.

– There are a total of 49 contracting parties (covering 64 territories) to the Hague Agreement, including the European Union the African Intellectual Property Organization, Japan, Norway, Switzerland, and the Republic of Korea.

Strategic Implications

– The new system provides for potential cost savings and centralized management.

– Currently, design applications are not eligible for provisional rights because they are not published.  International design applications filed in the Hague System, however, are typically published six months after the filing date and an applicant can even request immediate publication.  Therefore, a company can obtain provisional rights for an industrial design by filing an international design application.

Please contact the experts at Cislo & Thomas LLP for more information regarding international design applications with the Hague System.