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The “Hague System” allows many national and regional design registries to cooperate to register and protect industrial designs in their territories. The EC has long been a member. The USA and Japan were, however, most notable non-member countries. Their accession to the Hague Union widens and strengthens the Hague System as a route for efficient International registration of industrial designs.

The Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs is run by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and provides a practical and efficient business solution for registering designs in over 64 territories. Furthermore, one single international application can contain up to 100 designs.

Japan and the US joining the Hague System

As of 13 May 2015 the USA and Japan will also become members of the Hague Union and users of the Hague System allowing international designers to more conveniently and cheaply register their intellectual property in these major industrialised nations.

Harmonisation of Term of Protection

Notably, the term of a US design patent term will be harmonised with other member countries by being lengthened by a year to 15 years. However, it appears that this change will only apply to applications filed on or after 13 May 2015. Also, the US will continue to examine design applications under the design patent regime even though many Hague Union countries do not conduct any substantive examination.

European Union

The European Union is already a member of the Hague system, as are most individual European countries. The UK is a notable exception. Consequently, designers who wish to protect their design in the UK via the Hague System must do so via a European registration.

South Korea, Canada and China next?

Accession to the Hague agreement by Japan and the USA has encouraged other countries to join; South Korea, Canada and China are all expected to join in the near future.


Our articles are for general information only. They should not be considered specific legal advice, which is available upon request. All information in our articles is considered to be accurate at the date of publishing.


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