Welcome to the monthly newsletter of John J. Connors. In this installment, I will discuss the implications of the United States' recent acceptance of the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs (Hague Agreement) for companies seeking to protect industrial designs. By adopting The Hague Agreement, the United States has taken important action toward simplifying and enhancing the current protections afforded to industrial designs.
What is the primary change to the patent process under The Hague Agreement?
Broadly speaking, the ascension of the United States to this treaty has the effect of consolidating the patent application process. Inventors have the opportunity to file a single, standardized design application with international scope, thereby securing patent protection in various countries across North America, Europe and Asia. A business may register up to 100 designs in over 62 different geographical locations. Effective May 13, 2015, a company in the United States may file a single international application in one language with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and specify the United States as a contracting party to the Hague Agreement. Industrial design patents granted from applications filed on or after May 13, 2015 will have a 15 year term.
The modification of the requirement to file individual patents in each jurisdiction has several significant advantages:
Financial feasibility. The implementation of a one-application system eliminates the need for multiple filing fees in various currencies.
Enhanced flexibility. The amendment of the multi-jurisdictional application requirement allows for more flexible monitoring procedures. Rather than diligently tracking multiple deadlines for renewals that vary from one jurisdiction to another, a single set of requirements is in effect.
Procedural simplicity. A revision to any information, such as the name of the patent holder, can be recorded just once in a centralized location, thereby significantly streamlining the initial application for, and ongoing management of, the patent registration.
What is an industrial design?
An industrial design refers to the aesthetic or decorative features of an article. This may relate to several aspects of the design, including the three dimensional component, such as shape, or the two dimensional components, such as the patterns or colors of the design. Industrial design protection can be pertinent to a variety of common-use products and merchandise, including containers and packages, lighting accessories, jewelry items, household goods, furniture, textiles and electronic equipment. An industrial design may also refer to graphic symbols or logos.
How is an industrial design protected?
The owner of a design patent can legally prevent third parties from making or selling articles for commercial purposes that incorporate or contain a design which is a copy, or materially resembles a copy of, the designated design.
Ensuring the protection of an industrial design is a key component to comprehensive intellectual property safeguards for your business. It is essential to seek comprehensive and current legal advice from an experienced professional who can keep you informed about the latest legal developments in intellectual property.