Word on the street is that 6 April 2018 will be a big day for the UK in the IP design protection world! It was recently announced by Jo Johnson (the current Minister for Intellectual Property) that by 31 March 2018, the UK will have acceded to the Hague Agreement for the international registration of designs. This means that from 6 April 2018 the UK will be able to launch its own direct filing service with WIPO, thereby enabling UK designers to secure protection for up to 100 registered designs in multiple countries via just one single application. They system is akin to the current International Trade Mark System (known as the ‘Madrid System’) that is so popular with brand owners.
Most IP-savvy people in our circle share the view that the UK’s membership to this system is a good thing. At present, the EU is one of the 66 members to the Hague System, so UK businesses currently have access to the system via this route. But post-Brexit, the UK will require membership in its own right in order still to access and benefit from the Hague System, including our ability to secure registered community designs (‘RCDs’), for which we would otherwise no longer be eligible to apply directly.
Unlike the Madrid System, designers are not required to have a national or regional design application or registration in place before filing an international design application. Multiple designs can be included in the application, provided they all fall within the same Locarno classification. Much like RCDs, the publication of the international application can be deferred for up to 30 months, although under the Hague System there is no official fee for deferment, potentially offering UK businesses some cost savings. Similarly, WIPO charges a single fee upon renewal where multiple designs are included in a single registration, again meaning that the Hague System could be a cheaper option for UK designers moving forwards.