Users of registered designs will be pleased to hear that the UK Minister for Intellectual Property, Jo Johnson, has recently stated that the UK will ratify and join the Hague Agreement for International Design registrations by 31 March 2018. The service is due to come into operation on 6 April 2018. Currently, UK-based applicants are able to apply for an International Design by virtue of the UK being part of the EU. This separate ratification by the UK will ensure that UK-based applicants will continue to be able to file International Design registrations after the UK leaves the EU.
Under the Hague Agreement it is possible to submit a single ‘International’ design application which covers selected states that are members of the Hague Agreement. The geographical coverage of International Designs has recently expanded and now includes, amongst other territories, the EU, most European countries at a national level, the USA, South Korea, Japan, Singapore and parts of Africa. A list of the selectable countries can be found here. By virtue of the UK joining the Hague Agreement, the UK will also be individually selectable from April 2018 as a designated state rather than only via an EU designation.