12 December 2012

US Passes Bill To Join Hague Agreement On International Design Registrations

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 60 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.

A step towards a significant addition to the Hague Agreement was taken on 5th December 2012, when the US Congress passed a Senate Bill for the US to join the Hague Agreement.  The Bill is expected to be signed by President Obama before the end of the year, although the law would not take effect until 12-months later, once implementing rules and procedures have been drawn up.

Membership of the US to the Hague Agreement would make the system much more commercially attractive to businesses within Europe and other existing member states, but would also enable US 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