Registered design protection is an effective way of protecting a product’s market share from similar looking competing products and obtaining registered designs can significantly improve a company’s position in case a dispute arises. Each country/region has their own laws regarding design protection and their own systems for registering designs. Therefore, it is necessary to obtain separate design rights for each country of interest (e.g. by filing separate national design applications in each country). As a result, obtaining registered designs in many different countries can be costly. Moreover, maintaining and keeping track of individual designs in multiple countries can be complicated.
The Hague system provides a way for applicants to apply for a registered design centrally (at the World Intellectual Property Organization) and extend the geographic scope of the application to multiple different countries (though local professional advice may still be needed). Filing a single design application through the Hague system can be less expensive and less complicated than filing individual designs in each country of interest. Moreover, the Hague system provides a convenient way to manage and renew the registered design centrally. Therefore, many of our clients are choosing to file registered design applications via the Hague system, rather than through separate individual national applications.
It is not possible to extend a Hague design to every country in the world (the list of the 94 countries currently accessible via the Hague system is found here). Moreover, in order to file a Hague application, an applicant must be based in one of the countries that are signed up to the Hague system.
However, the Hague system has now become even more attractive with the recent announcement that China is joining. The potential scope of Hague applications will be extended to include China as of 5 May 2022 and from that date Hague design applications will be available to applicants based in China.
The Chinese economic market is a key market for many of our clients and the addition of China to the Hague system will result in 9 out of the world’s top 10 economies being covered by the Hague system, according to the WIPO press release here (although Hong Kong and Macau have their own systems and will not be covered by a Hague design designating China). This is a major update to the Hague agreement and we expect that the addition of China to the Hague system will result in a significant increase in the number of Hague applications being filed.
If we can assist you with an International design filing via the Hague system, or if you have any questions about Hague designs, please contact your usual Boult Wade Tennant advisor.