The UK government has announced it has joined the Hague Agreement for the international registration of industrial designs.

The system will come into effect from 13 June 2018 and will give applicants the option of filing an international design which designates the UK individually (rather than coverage through designation of the EU).

What are International Registered Designs?

Registered designs are relatively quick to obtain, and significantly cheaper than corresponding patent protection, and protect the distinctiveness of the aesthetic appearance shown in the representations which are filed.

There are currently 67 member countries of the international design system and the system enables an applicant to file a single design application designating any number of those member countries.

Certainty after Brexit

The UK will be the 68th member of the international design system, joining others members such as the US, Japan, Switzerland, Norway, the Republic of Korea and the EU.

At the moment, an applicant may achieve registered design protection across the EU (including the UK) by filing an international design, but there has been some uncertainty whether this will be able to continue when Brexit comes into effect.

Ratification of the Hague Agreement by the UK government provides certainty to applicants that, following Brexit, they will still be able to file an international registered design which covers the UK.

Advantages of filing an international design

An applicant can enjoy significant cost savings through the international design system because only one application is required to cover many countries, rather than filing in those individual countries.

Also, any changes made, and renewal fees due, in respect of the design application are administered centrally, rather than on a country by country basis, thus simplifying things for the applicant.

The international design application will need to fulfil all the local requirements for the countries designated which means care must be taken in creating design depictions that meet all the slight variances in formal requirements, but typically significant costs can be saved by an applicant through using the international registered design system.