The final step in the UK joining the Hague Agreement for industrial designs has been completed with the UK instrument of ratification being deposited in Geneva earlier this week. While the UK is already a participant to the system as a member state of the EU, this still is an important step in the UK’s development of its design regimes, as Novagraaf’s Claire Jones explains.
This is a great benefit for design rights owners, as from 13 June 2018, applicants will be able to designate the UK and obtain protection for designs independent of an EU designation (at present, it is only possible to cover the UK if the EU is designated).
Given Brexit, joining the Hague Agreement will also give applicants greater flexibility and options for design protection in the UK and wider EU. After Brexit, the UK would not have had access to the system as it would no longer be an EU member state. Now, applicants will not only be able to designate the UK and EU through the system, but other non-EU countries as well, such as Norway and Switzerland, without the need for separate representation. This is a benefit not only for UK-based applicants, but for other users of the Hague Agreement, which could make the UK design process more attractive overall, and reduces the potential Brexit impact and uncertainty on cross-border design protection.
The Hague system is (like the Madrid system for trademarks) a cost-effective and streamlined way to register designs, and more and more countries are joining. Russia joined in November 2017, and there are many others in the process of doing the same. Up to 100 designs in more than 67 countries can be filed in a single application.
WIPO’s website has lots of useful information on the Hague system, its legal framework, features and advantages.