UK design owners will welcome the UK government's recent announcement that in 2018 the UK will join the Hague Agreement for international design registrations, providing them with more options for protecting their designs.
On 30 March 2017, Jo Johnson, the Minister for Intellectual Property, announced that the UK will ratify and join the Hague Agreement for international design registrations by 31 March 2018 and that the service will come into operation on 6 April 2018. (This is later than the government had originally proposed, which was late 2016.)
The Hague Agreement allows designers and businesses to obtain protection for industrial designs in multiple countries with a single application at WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation). An international application can cover up to 100 different designs. The EU is one of 66 members, which gives UK businesses access, although the UK is not currently a member in its own right.
The UK's membership of the Hague Agreement will means that UK businesses will be able to directly apply for registered Community designs via the WIPO system. This is good news for design owners providing them with increased flexibility and another avenue for protection, particularly while the UK's exit from the EU is being negotiated. It means that when the UK leaves the EU, UK businesses will still be able to register a Community design, which will cover all remaining EU member states. Design protection in the UK via the Hague system will also be available to other members of the system (both within and outside the EU) which could enhance the attraction of the system.
If you have any further questions about the implications of the UK joining the Hague Agreement or more generally about the implications of Brexit for intellectual property, please get in touch with your usual contact at Fieldfisher.
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