From 13 June 2018, the UK officially joins the Hague Agreement for the international registration of designs. The Hague Agreement allows applicants to register a design in any one of the 67 contracting parties through a single application, covering up to 82 countries in total, without the need to file individual, national applications.
Ratification of the Hague Agreement by the UK will allow Hauge users from the UK and abroad to obtain design protection in the UK as part of an international design and will encourage more UK applicants to use the system.
Applications are filed at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), by payment of a single set of application fees. Central examination of formalities by the WIPO streamlines the design process for applicants seeking protection in a number of countries. However, substantive examination will still take place at a national level, it is therefore important for applicants to ensure their design complies with national requirements before filing.
After registration, the Hague System continues to reduce administrative and cost burden on holders of registered designs. Only one renewal date need be monitored for all designations of the international design, with just one set of renewal fees paid centrally. Changes to the registration, such as a change in owner, or name and address, can also be recorded centrally, further easing administrative burden.
With design protection becoming an increasingly useful and more frequently enforced right, this is a helpful development for design owners with an international presence.
The UKIPO has published guidance on the Hague System, which can be found here.
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