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China Joins Hague System for International Registration of Industrial Designs

Defeng Song
02/03/2022

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China

Last month, China officially deposited its instrument of accession to the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement. Years of effort and preparation have finally paid off!

The Hague system is a multilateral agreement made between governments and international government organisations, concerning the international registration of industrial designs. The Hague Agreement was first established in 1925, and amended several times thereafter. Currently, the Hague system has three editions of acts: 1934 Act, 1960 Act and 1999 Act.
 
The Geneva Act is the 1999 Act, which entered into force in 2003, and will become applicable to China as of 5 May 2022. With China’s accession, the contracting parties to the Hague Agreement will add up to 77. The application of the Geneva Act will not be extended to Hong Kong and the Macao Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China (PRC) for the moment.
 
Unlike some jurisdictions in the world, industrial designs are prosecuted as design patents in China under the patent regime. The two other types of patents, namely invention patents and utility model patents are covered by the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) which China is already a member of.
 
Like the other two types of patents in China, as from 5 May 2022, an applicant may also file an international design application with Hague System to seek design patent protection in all designated Contracting States.
 
Unlike the PCT, where a mandatory national stage is provided for each international application where the patent application will be examined and granted by each designated Contracting State if the application meets the conditions under the national law. The Hague system takes a step further towards a “one-stop solution”. The registration of a design will be made at the international level, and upon registration, the effect of protection will be extended to all designated Contracting Parties unless a notification of refusal is made by a Contracting Party, in which case the registration will have no effect of protection within the jurisdiction of the specific Contracting Party.
 
China’s accession to the Hague System will largely facilitate not only Chinese applicants getting design protection abroad but will also facilitate foreign applicants  getting design patent protection in China. A booming time for design practice can surely be expected both in China and beyond!
 
This latest accession by China adds to the list of international treaties in respect of intellectual property that China has acceded to up to now, some of which are as follows:

Name of Treaty Administration Date In Force In China Area of Intellectual Property
Paris Convention WIPO Mar. 19, 1985 Patent, Utility Model, Industrial Design, etc.
Madrid Agreement WIPO Oct. 4, 1989 Trade Marks
TRIPS WTO Dec. 11, 2001 Patents, Industrial Designs, Copyrights, Trade Marks, etc.
Berne Convention WIPO Oct. 15, 1992 Copyright
PCT WIPO Jan. 1, 1994 Invention Patents and Utility Model Patents
Beijing Treaty WIPO Apr. 28, 2020 Audiovisual Performances
Hague Agreement WIPO May 5, 2022 Industrial Designs

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