Designers have a number of filing routes for seeking registered design protection. One such route that is growing in popularity is the Hague Agreement.
Through a centrally administered process, the Hague Agreement is designed to allow applicants to achieve international protection for their designs with less expense and formal requirements when compared to the route of individually filing design applications in each and every territory of interest.
The Hague Agreement system may be likened to other international systems (such as the PCT for patents or the Madrid systems for trade marks), in that it is an administrative system that allows registration of designs in multiple jurisdictions stemming from a single international design application.
International design applications under the Hague Agreement are a bundle of individual applications that are centrally examined by WIPO with regard only to formal requirements. The nuances of local practice may come into play once formal examination by WIPO is complete. Depending on the exact procedure in a designated jurisdiction, an application within the bundle may be examined substantively (as is the case in the United States and Japan) or opposed.
Generally speaking the Hague Agreement provides cost and administrative efficiencies for seeking protection for multiple designs in multiple territories. There are over 60 territories that are signatories to the Hague Agreement (the full list of these may be found here), including the European Union, US and Japan.
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