China has joined 93 other countries to become part of the Hague System; an international agreement for the protection of design rights. It will come into force in China on the 5th of May 2022 – but what will this mean for IP owners?
Understanding the Hague System
A ‘design right’ protects the appearance of the whole or part of a product including, but not limited to, the shape, colours, contours and materials of the product. Registered design protection means the owner can prevent others from exploiting the product for a period of time.
Under the Hague System, one application is made to the International Bureau which gives protection in up to 94 countries. This now includes China meaning applicants can apply for protection in China and in turn Chinese designers can apply for protection in the other 93 countries. One application can include up to 100 designs as long as they belong to the same class of the International Classification for Industrial Designs (the Locarno Classification).
When an application is made, the International Bureau check the design complies with the formal requirements and once it has passed this initial check, each contracting party then checks it complies with its domestic legislation. This way, the registration effectively grants protection in each contracting party under its own domestic law.
To access the Hague System, an applicant must meet one of the following criteria:
- be a national of a contracting party or of a member state of an intergovernmental organisation which is a contracting party (for example, the EU);
- have a domicile or habitual residence in a contracting party; or
- have a real or effective industrial or commercial establishment in a contracting party.
Saving time and money
The two overarching benefits of the Hague System are that applications can now be more simple and economical. Just one application is needed for the protection of up to 100 designs in up to 94 countries meaning only one application to monitor and renew in one language with one set of fees. In contrast, to apply in each individual country, would require 94 applications to monitor with 94 sets of fees and in multiple languages. Crucially, the costs associated with making all these separate applications would be significantly greater than those associated with a single Hague application.
The future of the Hague System
With the recent addition of China, the Hague System now includes most of the major territories involved with design; China, the EU, the UK, the USA, Japan and South Korea. This could pave the way to encourage further territories to join.
At Hamlins, we have expertise in protecting your intellectual property assets, from design rights to trade marks. If you would like a conversation about protecting your intellectual property, contact Matthew Pryke.