International design applications – protecting your design using The Hague System
The Hague System
The Hague System provides an opportunity for designers and companies to protect their designs in over 60 countries throughout the world, using an “international” design application. An application through The Hague System allows for protection in a large number of territories using only a single application, in single language, having a single set of fees, and at a single office – the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). Up to 100 different designs can be included in this international design application.
The European Union is a party to The Hague System and, by extension, UK businesses have been able to take advantage of the ability to protect their designs in a wide range of countries at WIPO. The UK itself, however, is not currently a member of The Hague System. This will change on 06 April 2018, when the UK is set to ratify the Hague Agreement and become a fully-fledged member of The Hague System.
Benefits of Individual UK Membership
Individual membership for the UK will provide security to UK businesses and designers looking to take advantage of the international reach of design registration through The Hague System after the UK leaves the European Union. This is particularly good news for those in the UK looking to protect their designs throughout the member states of the European Union using a Community Registered Design, which will now remain accessible following Brexit. While the UK negotiates the terms of its exit from the European Union, The Hague System will offer a useful alternative to the current options for protecting designs internationally, and will also continue to permit UK design protection through The Hague System to other members.
Once a UK registered design application is filed, an international application can be made up to six months after the earlier filing and still enjoy the filing date of the earlier application, as if they were both filed on the same day. Since the UK is set to join The Hague System on 06 April 2018, any UK registered design application made henceforth may subsequently be the subject of an application through The Hague System after 06 April 2018 (while remaining within the six month time limit from the earliest filing).
An application made through The Hague System is first examined at the International Bureau of WIPO, which assesses the compliance with formal requirements of the international design application process. The application is then examined at the intellectual property offices of each selected territory. The formal requirements within each territory will vary according to local law, such as the required formatting of the drawings within the application; the type of drawings to be included; whether there has been a prior disclosure; and the need to draft a specification to accompany the application. In any case, it is best to seek advice from qualified attorneys if you wish to pursue registered design protection, in order to ensure that any granted rights adequately protect your product in your chosen regions.
In summary, the UK’s ratification of The Hague Agreement means that the options for protecting your designs will not be limited following Brexit. In April 2018, the UK will join the 66 current members of The Hague System, which includes other key countries and regions such as the United States, Japan and the European Union.
Click here to see a complete list of the current 66 countries and regions party to The Hague System.
If you are a designer or a business considering design protection for your product or logo, and would like commercially-focused advice on the most appropriate and cost effective way to protect your design, please contact us at email@example.com or by phone on 023 8000 2022.