On December 18, 2012, the Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act of 2012 (Act) was signed into law. Among other things, the Act set forth provisions implementing the 1999 Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs (Hague Agreement), thus making the United States a party to the agreement that covers 96 countries. These provisions are in Title I of the Act, which took effect on May 13, 2015.
The Hague Agreement is an international registration system which offers the possibility of obtaining protection for up to 100 industrial designs in designated member countries and intergovernmental organizations, referred to as contracting parties. As of 2023, there are 79 contracting parties under the Hague Agreement.
An applicant can file a single international application for design protection, in a single language, either directly with the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) or indirectly, through the office of the appropriate contracting party.
Beginning in May 2015, U.S. applicants have been able to file international design applications through the USPTO as an office of indirect filing. Applicants filing international design applications can designate the United States for design protection. In addition, U.S. design patents resulting from applications filed on or after May 13, 2015, have a 15-year term from issuance.
Requirements for international filing under the Hague Agreement
To be entitled to file an international design application under the Hague Agreement, an applicant must:
- Be a national of a contracting party or of a member state of an intergovernmental organization that is a contracting party (for example, the European Union),
- Have a domicile or habitual residence in the territory of a contracting party, or
- Have a real and effective industrial or commercial establishment in the territory of a contracting party