Header graphic for print
WinTech Legal Insight for Start-Up and Established Technology Businesses

International Protection of Industrial Designs under the Hague System

Posted in Development & Commercialization of Technology, Intellectual Property, Patent Counseling & Strategies, Patent Law, Patent Prosecution

An industrial design generally constitutes the ornamental or aesthetic aspects of various articles, such as the three dimensional features (e.g., shapes) or two dimensional features (e.g., patterns, lines or colors) of packages, containers, furniture, household goods, lighting equipment, jewelry, electronic devices, and textiles. Industrial designs can be protected in many countries by a design patent. For instance, an owner of a design patent can have the right to prevent others from making, selling, using or importing articles that resemble the protected design.

Since many commercial articles are sold or manufactured internationally, the procurement of design patents in multiple countries is usually desirable. However, such procurement can become costly and complex. The Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs (Hague System) can provide a more cost effective and simple approach for the attainment of design patents in multiple countries[1].

In general, the Hague System provides the owner of an industrial design a means of obtaining protection in several countries through the filing of a single application in one language, and with one set of fees in one currency[2]. The international design application can either be filed with the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) or the patent office of a designated country[3]. The application must contain a reproduction of the industrial design(s) to be protected[4]. The application must also designate the countries where protection is sought[5]. Thereafter, each of the designated countries will examine the design application in accordance with the laws of that country[6].

As such, the Hague System enables industrial design owners to obtain protection for their designs while minimizing formalities and expense. For instance, applicants will not be required to file separate national applications in each of the countries where they would like to seek protection.

Applicants from multiple countries can take advantage of the Hague System. Currently, over 60 countries and territories are participating in the Hague System[7]. Beginning May 13, 2015, U.S. applicants will also be able to file international design applications through the Hague System.

[1] The Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs:Main Features and Advantages. 2012. World Intellectual Property Organization. Page 4. http://www.wipo.int/edocs/pubdocs/en/designs/911/wipo_pub_911.pdf

[2]  http://www.wipo.int/hague/en/

[3] Id.

[4] The Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs:Main Features and Advantages. 2012. World Intellectual Property Organization. Pages 7-8.

[5] Id.

[6] Id. at page 9.

[7] The contracting parties to the Hague System are included at: http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ShowResults.jsp?lang=en&treaty_id=9