It was recently announced that the United States of America and Japan have become members of the Hague Agreement for the International Registration of Industrial Designs.
This International Design System (hereinafter the “System”) enables a qualifying applicant to file a single international design application at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). By means of this single application, a design affords protection is all member territories of the System. Currently, approximately 64 countries and intergovernmental organisations (e.g. the European Union and the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation) are contracting parties of the Hague Agreement.
In order to qualify to bring an application under the System, an applicant either must be a national of a contracting party or a member state of an intergovernmental organisation which is a contacting party, or have a domicile in the territory of a contracting party, or have an industrial or commercial establishment in the territory of a contracting party.
The System has many advantages for clients, such as eliminating the need to file individual national or regional design applications in each territory concerned, with significant cost saving implications. Furthermore, the System enables centralised management of, for example, modifications and renewals in respect of a design.
Although South Africa is not a member of the Hague Agreement, we would be able to assist our clients, who satisfy the qualifying criteria above, to bring international design applications in terms of the System.