On 2nd-3rd September 2019 the 10th China Intellectual Property Annual Conference held in Hangzhou International Expo Center. Experts participated at this event, stated that China was making a significant progress to protect industrial designs. Among these experts, Mr. Lyu, the previous director of the international cooperation department of the CNIPA was a special guest at the conference. He made a speech about the industrial design’s value and power.
During the conference, Mr. Lyu emphasized several times that industrial design played a significant role worldwide. As an example, he considered the results of the WIPO report. According to this report, branding, technology and industrial design covered more than 1/3 of all production value all over the world. Furthermore, Mr. Lyu stated that the number of industrial design applications from Chinese applicants to Europe had been growing for the period from 2000 up to 2017. In 2017 it was registered that the number of industrial design applications from the Chinese applicants exceeded 8,500 application forms.
In addition, the peak of industrial design applications applied by the Chinese filers was also registered in such countries as the USA, Japan and South Korea. As Mr. Lyu noted, the main reason for such wide geography of industrial design applications is that domestic companies are intending to expand their influence in the global market by means of industrial designs.
In May 2019 the CNIPA and the WIPO started their negotiations regarding China’s joining the Hague Agreement on industrial design. The Hague Agreement is a universal treaty, which regulates and protects registered industrial design on an international level. Many experts said that this treaty had numerous advantages. Firstly, under the treaty the industrial design will be protected by parties through a single application. Secondly, this agreement helps to decide questions arising during applying an application form for an industrial design like paying fees or the governing language of the application form etc. Hence, the agreement directly regulates the currency to pay fees and the application form could be applied in English, French or Spanish. And the last advantage of the Hague system, it is its simplicity, economy, efficiency and flexibility.
It is known that several Chinese enterprises like Huawei, ZTE, Midea, Lenovo, Xiomi and Gee have already joined the Hague Agreement and used it in order to protect their design patents through the so-called “backdoor” applications. The meaning of the “backdoor” application is the situation when an international company has its headquarters in a country outside the Hague system, which can take advantage of its overseas subsidiaries to file the international application.
In spite of the fact that 70 contracting parties has signed and ratified the Hague Agreement, China is the only country outside this treaty. However, the Chinese Government is taking steps to join the Hague Agreement. The representative form P&G, Mr. Lu said: “We are expecting that to happen”.