The UK Minister for IP, Jo Johnson, has recently confirmed that the UK will accede to the Hague Agreement for international registration of designs in the near future. According to his statement, the UK will have ratified the Act by 31st March 2018 and be in a position to launch the service on 6th April 2018. Plans to join the international registration system were first announced nearly three years ago as part of the Intellectual Property Act 2014. At the time, the news had a muted reception. However, now the forthcoming separation of the UK from the European Community (Brexit) makes the benefits of the Hague system significantly more appealing.
The Hague Agreement enables applicants to file a single, “international” design registration designating multiple countries and/or intergovernmental organisations including the European Union. Doing so has the advantage of reducing filing costs and administrative burdens, relative to filing separate applications in each of those countries. However, the Hague Agreement is a “closed system” meaning that only persons from member states can make use of it. At present, since the European Community is a member of the system, UK companies can already apply for an international design registration. However, as things stand, this possibility will end upon Brexit taking place.
The UK’s accession to the Hague Agreement therefore keeps open the possibility of UK applicants filing international design registrations and hence benefiting from the attendant advantages. More significantly, it means that “Europe-wide” design protection akin to that currently provided by a European Community design registration will still be achievable via a single application – namely an international application designating the EC and the UK. As such, the UK’s joining of the Hague system is now very much to be welcomed.
If you would like more information about filing international design registrations, or any other aspects of design protection, please contact a member of GJE’s Designs Team who will be happy to assist.