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International Protection of Industrial Designs

Currently, U.S. inventors of industrial designs have limited and expensive options for pursuing international design patent protection. Unlike utility patent applications which may take advantage of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), design patents are typically sought through country-by-country filing and prosecution. However, on May 13, 2015 options for inventors of designs will change.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has announced that the United States has deposited its instrument of ratification to the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs (Hague Agreement) with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva, Switzerland (www​.usp​to​.gov/​p​a​t​e​n​t​/​i​n​i​t​i​a​t​i​v​e​s​/​h​a​g​u​e​-​a​g​r​e​e​m​e​n​t​-​c​o​n​c​e​r​n​i​n​g​-​i​n​t​e​r​n​a​t​i​o​n​a​l​-​r​e​g​i​s​t​r​a​t​i​o​n​-​i​n​d​u​s​t​r​i​a​l​-​d​e​signs),” which is the last step in the membership process for the United States. The USPTO is expected to publish the Final Rules governing USPTO processing and examination of international design applications filed pursuant to this Agreement in the near future.

When the Hague Agreement enters into force for the United States on May 13, 2015, it will be possible for U.S. applicants to file a single international design application either with WIPO in Geneva, Switzerland, or the USPTO to obtain protection in multiple territories with the filing of one single application. The collection of territories upon U.S. launch will not be as robust as is available through the PCT for utility cases, but is expected to grow quickly over the next few years with additions of several countries to the member list.

Another change to U.S. design patents, in order to align with the Hague Agreement, appears to be that U.S. design patents resulting from applications filed on or after May 13, 2015 will have a 15 year term, up 1 year from the current 14 year term.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided is for general informational purposes only. This post is not updated to account for changes in the law and should not be considered tax or legal advice. This article is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. You should consult with legal and/or financial advisors for legal and tax advice tailored to your specific circumstances.

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