As of 13 June 2018 there will be more flexibility for UK and international IP holders wishing to apply for UK registered designs. Following deposit of its instrument of ratification in Geneva on 13 March 2018, the UK is acceding to the 1999 Hague Agreement Act. The accession will become effective on 13 June 2018, meaning that the UK can then be separately designated in international design applications.
The UK had been in discussions about joining the Hague Agreement for some time and the issue recently gained even greater significance in light of the Brexit vote. Alicia Instone has been working with the UK Intellectual Property Office through her activities with the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys to assist in making this a reality.
The Hague Agreement for industrial designs allows applicants to register a design in any number of the contracting parties through a single application. Applications are most frequently filed at the International Bureau at the World Intellectual Property Organisation and the system helps simplify and streamline international protection by enabling single-language applications and centralising fees. The UK is the 68th member of the Hague Union.
UK businesses have had to access the Hague Agreement since 2008 through the EU’s membership, but this is unlikely to continue following Brexit. The UK’s national ratification hence ensures that UK businesses, both pre and post Brexit, can benefit from the Hague Agreement and use it to pursue design registrations in the UK and the EU, without the need for separate representation.