Industrial designs can be protected through various forms of intellectual property (IP), including patents, trademarks, copyrights, and/or standalone design systems. In the United States, design patents provide a primary form of intellectual property utilized for the protection of industrial designs. Design patents are one of the three types of patents in the United States and are issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) with a 15-year term of protection measured from date of grant. There are no maintenance fees required for U.S. design patents. See the USPTO Design Patent Application Guide for more information.
The Industrial Design Forum (ID5) brings together the five largest industrial design offices in the world: the China National IP Office (CNIPA), the European Union IP Office (EUIPO), the Japan Patent Office (JPO), the Korea Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) and the USPTO. The World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) participates as an observer. Together, these five IP offices represent approximately 90% of the world’s annual industrial design application filings. The ID5 creates an incubator for the development of industrial design policy and the identification of best practices and procedures. The USPTO works through the ID5 to ensure that effective industrial design protection exists for designs in all technologies, to improve consistency in design examination policies and practices, and to focus global efforts to identify the needs and challenges of the design community through stakeholder outreach and information sharing. See the ID5 website for more information.
The Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement (“Hague Agreement”) permits an applicant to file a single international design application to obtain protection in Hague Agreement member jurisdictions, similar to how the Patent Cooperation Treaty and the Madrid Protocol enable pursuit of protection for utility patent and trademark rights respectively in multiple member jurisdictions. The United States joined the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement on February 13, 2015, with the treaty taking effect on May 13, 2015. For more information about the Hague Agreement and the United States’ implementation of it, see the USPTO Hague Agreement page or the WIPO website.
Hague Working Group
The Working Group on the Legal Development of the Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs (the “Hague Working Group”) at WIPO meets annually and focuses on identifying and improving operational efficiencies and improvements to user experiences. Among other things, the Hague Working Group develops recommendations for the continued updating and modernization of the Hague System through updates to its Common Regulations, Administrative Instructions, and associated practice of the International Register. See the Hague Working Group website for more information.
Standing Committee for the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Design, and Geographical Indications
WIPO, through its Standing Committee for the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Design, and Geographical Indications (SCT), provides a global forum for substantive discussions focused on industrial design topics and issues, including the advancement of collaboration, harmonization, and normative legal work in relation to industrial designs. See the SCT website for more information.