Today, 13 June 2018, the UK became a member of the "Hague Agreement for the International Registration of Industrial Designs". This follows the UK's ratification of the agreement three months previously.
International design applications filed from today onwards will provide the opportunity for design protection to be obtained in the UK via such an international application.
Registered designs can be sought for the outward appearance of a product and can offer important protection for new and unique designs. The Hague Agreement for industrial designs allows a single international design application to be filed, in one language and with one set of fees, giving access to registered design protection in over 80 countries (including the EU, US, Japan, South Korea and Russia). This is an effective and efficient way to obtain design protection in multiple different jurisdictions.
Although the European Union (EU) is already a signatory to the Hague Agreement (and thus previously design protection in the UK could be obtained by designating the EU in an international application), the UK's membership of the Hague system allows more flexibility for design applicants in future. An international design application will now be able to designate the UK individually, giving applicants the choice between the EU and the UK.
The UK's ratification of the Hague Agreement is welcome news, in light of the UK's planned departure from the EU, for two main reasons. First, following Brexit, the UK's membership of the Hague Agreement will continue to allow UK applicants to file international design applications. Second, it will continue to allow for registered design protection to be sought in the UK through an international design application, when this is unlikely to be available via the EU route.
The Hague System provides a practical business solution for registering up to 100 designs in over 68 contracting parties, which can provide protection in up to 81 countries. This allows for a single international application filed with the International Bureau (IB) of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) rather than a whole series of applications which would otherwise have to be filed with different national offices.