On March 13, 2018, the United Kingdom deposited its instrument of ratification to the Geneva Act (1999) of the Hague Agreement for the protection of industrial designs.

The Hague, Netherlands

The Hague design system permits provides protection for industrial designs in a wide range of territories using a single registered design application. At present, there are 67 parties in the Hague Union. These include the European Union and the United States of America, but China is not currently a member. The UK will be the 68th member. The applicant chooses the extent of territorial coverage by designating individual party states or territories in a single international design registration. The cost of the international design registration depends upon which territories which the applicant selects for coverage.

UK companies and individuals have been using the Hague System to protect their industrial designs since 2008 as a result of the European Union’s membership of the Hague System. However, as of June 13, 2018, Hague registered design applicants both inside and outside the UK will enjoy more flexibility in their design protection strategies as they will be able to designate the United Kingdom individually as well as the European Union as a whole.

Once registered, and international design registration has equivalent effect in each designated territory as a national or regional registered design in that territory, and is therefore an alternative replacement to a national or regional registered design.

The primary advantage of an international design registration Hague System is its cost effectiveness. Instead of making multiple registered design applications in multiple territories, each involving a separate filing and prosecution for procedure, separate official fees and separate local attorney fees, multiple territories can be designated in a single international design registration which is a single procedure. UK companies and individuals can be represented by a single European patent attorney or European design attorney instead of having to use multiple local representatives.

Inclusion in the Hague system is an important development for post Brexit design protection, as it will allow applicants to obtain parallel national United Kingdom and EU protection in a single international registered design application.

There are two tiers to the Hague design system. The Hague agreement has 68 members and the Geneva Act has 54 members including the United Kingdom. Applicants may only designate member states which are also signatories to the same particular act of the Hague agreement. 

Below is a downloadable list of Hague member states, correct at January 15, 2018.

For more information on international registered designs refer to our webpage and white paper here.

Article Published March 19th, 2018