On February, 13, 2015, the U.S. took a major step towards implementing the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs by depositing an instrument of ratification with World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”). As a result, the treaty – which the U.S. initially signed in 1999 – will go into effect for U.S. applicants on May 13, 2015.
The Hague Agreement establishes a streamlined, international system for filing applications to protect industrial designs, such as product configurations and surface ornamentation. Instead of filing separate applications in each country where protection is required, an applicant will be able to file a single, standard format application with WIPO designating the jurisdictions where proceedings are to be initiated. A single application may include up to 100 different designs (if they all belong to the same class) and may designate any number of contracting countries or international organizations, such as the European Union.
In addition, the Hague Agreement and its implementing legislation, the Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act of 2012, make several important substantive changes to U.S. law and procedures affecting design patents. These changes include: extending the design patent term to 15 years, publishing international design applications, and creating provisional rights based on published applications
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