UK set to join The Hague System

There has been some discussion recently of the UK government’s intention to join The Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs. The Hague System allows an applicant to register designs in over 66 territories, including the EU and the USA, by filing one single international application. 

The UKIPO Corporate plan 2017-2020 sets out a number of “Ministerial Targets”, among which is the following: 

“We will have ratified the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement for international registration of designs by 31 March 2018 and be in a position to launch the service on 6 April 2018 (the common commencement date).” 

While this is promising, it is perhaps worth noting that it is only a target, so the timescale (and indeed the ratification itself) is not guaranteed. Indeed, following a consultation in 2015 the UKIPO stated:

“In light of the positive feedback to the consultation we will now proceed with our accession plans with a view to joining the Agreement towards the end of 2016.”

This obviously didn’t happen, but that does not necessarily mean that the target of joining the Hague System will, or should, be missed this time. 

Things have, of course, changed somewhat since 2015. The number of signatories to the Agreement has continued to grow, and the current access route for UK applicants, via EU membership, will likely cease to be an option once the Brexit process is complete. 

The UK’s ratification of the Hague Agreement would seem to provide, at the very least, a simple mechanism whereby a UK company could file a single application to obtain registered design protection across the UK and the EU (as currently provided by the Community Registered Design) once the UK is no longer an EU member. For that reason alone, it would likely be welcomed by UK applicants.

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