The system for international registration of industrial designs is referred to as “the Hague Agreement”. The Hague system cannot be used to protect an industrial design in a country which is not party to the Hague Agreement.
The Hague Agreement offers the possibility of obtaining protection for industrial designs in several Contracting Parties by means of a single international application filed with the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva, Switzerland.
Thus, under the Hague Agreement, a single international application replaces a whole series of applications which, otherwise, should have been effected with different national (or regional) Offices. Moreover, the subsequent management of the international registration is considerably facilitated, since a change in ownership for only some or all of the designated Contracting Parties, can be recorded in the International Register and have effect by means of one simple procedural step carried out through the International Bureau of WIPO.
An international application does not require any prior national application or registration and can be filed directly at the WIPO.
An international application may include up to 100 different designs. All designs must, however, belong to the same class of the Locarno Classification.
The Hague system is merely an agreement for international procedure and the International Bureau of WIPO only checks that the application complies with the prescribed formal requirements, but does not appraise or concern itself in any way with the novelty of the design. Any substantive aspect of the protection is entirely a matter for the domestic legislation of each designated Contracting Party, which can refuse protection, in its territory, to an industrial design which does not fulfil the substantive conditions of protection provided for by its domestic legislation.
International registrations are valid for an initial period of five years. They may be renewed for an additional period of five years, in respect of each designated Contracting Party, up to the expiry of the total term of protection allowed by those Contracting Parties’ respective laws.