In the past few days, media specialized in Intellectual Property matters have echoed in the, undoubtedly very positive, news of the adhesion from China (and previously Jamaica) to the Hague System (Convention) for the international registration of drawings and industrial models (designs) constituted in 1925 and that as of today already has 77 contracting parties and 93 member countries.
Ever since its constitution, just as it happens with the Madrid System for international trademarks, the Hague System has been consolidated as a successful design registration system at a worldwide level that offers countless advantages both for applicants and the agencies themselves that manage its operation (WIPO and national and regional intellectual property offices).
The benefits of the system are well known, given that, by means of a sole application, in a single language and the same application fees, the simplification and unification of procedures is obtained, as is the formal examination and publication, being able to centralize managements such as renewals or changes of ownership or representative.
For all these reasons, China, as the greatest applicant for registration of designs at a national level and, therefore, also leading this position at a worldwide level, required a series of legislative reforms that would allow them to align themselves to the protection systems of the main intellectual property offices in the world (US, Japan, Korea, and UE, essentially).
These reforms have arrived with the enactment of a new patent law, in effect as of June 1st, 2021, which has driven the incorporation of the Asian giant into the Hague System, with clear benefits for the protection of foreign designs in China, as well as for the registration of designs from Chinese applicants in other countries of the Hague Convention. Among other advantages, to the already time, cost and management-saving traditional advantages, this extension in the duration of designs from 10 to 15 years, which is the minimum duration to which new countries that are being incorporated into the system should join.
This recent milestone and interest from China for the International Design System highlights its good health and its excellent growth prospects.
Proof of this unstoppable growth are the numbers and statistics recently published by WIPO. In these it is emphasized that, in spite of the pandemic period, the number of designs contained in international applications increased in a 20.8% in 2021, until it reached a number of 22,480, the fastest growth experienced since 2010.
For its part, the country leading the podium by number of applications processed through the International System is Germany (the weight that the automotive sector has on this area is unquestionable), followed by the States, Switzerland, and France as main users and system supporters. Among the sectors that lead registration applications, the automotive sector stands out, which represented in 2021 the biggest part of the total of designs, followed by recording and communication equipment, packaging and containers, furniture, and lighting equipment. As an additional fact, a more traditionally reluctant sector to register such as that of clothing (perhaps conditioned by the so-called “fast fashion” or by figures such as the “non-registered design”) also have experienced an important growth in 2021.
Definitely, a giant such as China cannot be wrong in its betting for an international registration system in continuous growth, therefore: live long and prosper to international design!