The proposed Design Law Treaty (DLT) is a formalities treaty that would require contracting parties—that is, the countries and other intergovernmental organizations that accede to the treaty—to adhere to certain requirements with respect to the formalities associated with applications for the protection of industrial designs.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office leads the U.S. delegation in consideration of the draft treaty at World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). In July 2022, the General Assembly of WIPO decided to convene a Diplomatic Conference to conclude and adopt a Design Law Treaty to take place no later than 2024. In preparation of that Diplomatic Conference, the U.S. and other countries discussed the draft text of the proposed treaty’s articles and rules in October 2023. In addition, WIPO hosted a meeting to discuss the modalities of the Diplomatic Conference, which included ancillary topics such as the draft Rules of Procedure for the Diplomatic Conference, the list of invitees to participate in the conference, and the text of the draft letters of invitation, as well as any other document or organizational question relating to the Diplomatic Conference.
If adopted, the Design Law Treaty will provide for a more streamlined, harmonized process for filing and protecting design rights around the world. The draft text of the treaty sets forth maximum formalities requirements that contracting parties can impose on design applicants and owners. Examples of its provisions include:
- Limits on the requirements that contracting parties can impose as a condition for granting design application filing dates to applicants
- Requirements that contracting parties provide design applicants with certain flexibilities, including flexibilities for applicants who miss a time limit during the application process or who unintentionally allow the registration to lapse
- Requirements that contracting parties must allow design applicants to correct or add a priority claim to an application in certain circumstances
- Requirements that contracting parties provide for a grace period during which public disclosure would not affect novelty or originality requirements for obtaining the right
- Limits on the requirements that contracting parties may impose as to when applicants can be required to obtain local representation to take an action before the local office