The European Union has submitted to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva its instrument of accession to the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement concerning the international registration of industrial designs. The Geneva Act, which so far has 23 signatories, allows designers to obtain protection through a single international application filed with the International Bureau of WIPO, removing the need to register with every national or regional office. The European Union’s accession will allow EU companies, with one single application, to obtain protection of a design not only throughout the European Union, but also in the countries which are party to the Geneva Act. This will simplify procedures and reduce the costs of international protection. The system will become operational on 1 January 2008.