A new system for international design patent registration will greatly benefit design innovators through cost and timing efficiencies. In December 2012, President Obama signed into law the Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act of 2012, which implemented the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs (“the Hague Agreement”). The Hague Agreement is an international registration system that offers the possibility of obtaining protection for industrial designs in a number of countries and/or intergovernmental organizations (both referred to as “Contracting Parties”) by means of a single international application filed with the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The Hague Agreement will likely not go into effect for one year and will apply only to design patent applications filed after the effective date.
The Hague Agreement simply is an agreement for the international filing of industrial designs. It is the equivalent of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) for utility patents. Any substantive aspect of the protection is entirely a matter for the domestic legislation of each designated Contracting Party.
The Hague Agreement arose from a need for simplicity and economy. In effect, it enables design owners originating from a Contracting Party to obtain protection for their designs with a minimum of formality and expense. For example, the Hague Agreement offers the owner of an industrial design a means of obtaining protection in several countries by simply filing one application with the International Bureau of WIPO, in one language, with one set of fees in one currency. An international registration produces the same effects in each of the designated countries, as if the design had been registered directly with each national office, unless protection is refused by the national office of that country.
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