On May 13, 2015, the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs will go into effect in the United States. The Hague system will, in effect, introduce a design patent analog to the current Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) international patent application and Madrid Protocol international trademark registration systems. Rather than filing for design patent protection in foreign jurisdictions individually, applicants will be able to file a single application at the USPTO to pursue protection in multiple jurisdictions. Other participating countries at the time of writing include the European Union and South Korea. Japan will adopt the agreement on the same date as the U.S., and Canada, China, and Russia are all said to be exploring the possibility of participation.
Another important change associated with adoption of the agreement is that U.S. design patents issuing from applications filed after May 13, 2015, will have a 15 year term (vs. the 14 year term today). The USPTO is expected to publish rules regarding processing and examination of international design applications in the near future.