On February 13, 2015, the United States deposited its instrument of ratification to the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs (“Hague Agreement”) with the International Bureau of World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”). As such, the treaty will go into effect for the United States three months from the deposit date, on May 13, 2015. Japan is also understood to have deposited its instrument of ratification and is expected to become a member in the same time period as the United States. 

As indicated previously on this blog, the Hague Agreement, generally speaking, establishes an international registration system which facilitates protection of industrial designs (i.e., design patents) in member countries and intergovernmental organizations (“Contracting Parties”) by way of a single, “standardized” international design application filed either directly with the International Bureau of WIPO or indirectly through an applicant’s Contracting Party (which will now include the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”)). 

As for how the USPTO will process and examine international designs filed pursuant to the Hague Agreement, the USPTO has indicated they will soon publish their Final Rules in this regard, which are expected to go into effect on May 13, 2015 and apply to such international design applications filed on or after May 13, 2015. Among other things, U.S. design patents resulting from international design applications filed on or after May 13, 2015 pursuant to the Hague Agreement will have a 15-year term instead of the current 14-year term for U.S. design patents.