Today, both the US and Japan have deposited the necessary instruments to join the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement on the International Registration of Industrial Designs.

Japan deposited their instrument of accession to the Hague Agreement, and the US deposited their instrument of ratification following the US Congress passing a Senate Bill to join the Hague Agreement back in December 2012.  It is expected that the Hague Agreement will come into force in respect of these countries within around three months, although it is rumoured that the US may ask for a little longer before final ratification takes effect.

The Hague Agreement is a simple and cost-effective system for obtaining registered design protection in multiple participating countries through a single application, and the whole system is administered by the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO).  However, the Hague Agreement is a ‘closed’ system meaning that it is only available for use by applicants who are resident, domiciled or have a real and effective commercial establishment in a contacting state.

There are currently 62 states party to the Hague Agreement but the absence of some major countries from the Agreement, such as the United States, Japan, and China, has prevented anyone from those countries from using the system and has limited the attractiveness of the system to those who are eligible to use it.

Membership of these two major industrialised states to the Hague Agreement will make the system much more commercially attractive to businesses within Europe and other existing member states, but will also enable US and Japanese applicants to take advantage of the procedural and economic benefits of the system to obtain international registered design protection.

We will keep you posted with further developments in this matter as soon as they occur.  In the meantime, if you would like any further information on the Hague Agreement, or registered design protection in general, please contact Alex Brown at abrown@vennershipley.co.uk.