International Design Update

New Members to the Hague System

The Hague Agreement concerning the International Deposit of Industrial Designs (Hague System) is administered by World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and has been around for almost 100 years. It is a mechanism, similar to the Madrid Protocol System for trade marks, of registering an industrial design in several countries by means of a single application, filed in one language and with one set of fees. The Hague System produces the same effect of a grant of protection in each of the designated contracting countries as if the design had been registered directly with each national office, unless protection is refused by the national office.

When the European Union joined in 2008, other larger jurisdictions also started to join, and on 13 February 2015 the United States and Japan announced that they will join the Hague System officially on 13 May 2015. The addition of two of the world’s biggest economies to the Hague System will no doubt increase the use of this system to register designs internationally. Further, it is expected that China and the other Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries will join in 2015.

Currently, Australia is not a member of the Hague System, however, a review of the Designs System and the potential for Australia to join the Hague System is being conducted by the Advisory Council on Intellectual Property. Its report setting out its recommendations is due in March 2015. If Australia were to join the Hague System it would need to increase the term of protection for a registered design from 10 to 15 years.

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