The Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs provides a simple and cost-effective route for designers to protect their designs in multiple countries worldwide through the filing of a single international application. Many commercially significant territories such as the EU, UK, USA, Canada and Japan are already party to The Hague System.
In a key development, China has joined the Hague System following the Chinese government’s deposition of its instrument of accession to the 1999 Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement on 5 February 2022. The 1999 Act will enter into force in China on 5 May 2022. This follows on from recent changes to China’s domestic design system, which removed certain incompatibilities with the Hague System.
Design protection in China can be beneficial for businesses looking to expand into the world’s second largest economy, which is a significant manufacturer and exporter of consumer goods and has some of the world’s biggest e-commerce platforms.
WIPO’s Director General Daren Tang said:
From the earliest ornamental products made by our Stone Age ancestors to the modern day haute couture we see on runways across the globe, designers enrich, excite and enliven us. Designers are also playing a bigger role in shaping the look and feel of the products we use every day - from household products and mobile phones to virtual designs. China’s accession to the Hague System means that the design community in China will find it easier to protect and bring their designs out of China, and overseas designers will find it easier to move their designs into one of the world's largest and most-dynamic markets.”
At present China’s membership of the Hague system will not apply to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region or the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, which means that design protection must be applied for separately in these regions.
We will continue to keep up to date with developments about China's domestic laws, procedures and requirements for international design protection as they arise.