Introduction of Changes to the Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs
At its recent session, which took place in Geneva in September/October, the Assembly of the Hague Union approved a number of changes to the administration of the Hague system. The changes will come into effect on January 1, 2008.
Simplification of the Fee Structure
Firstly, there has been a simplification of the fee structure, to the extent that the distinction between reproductions to be published in black and white and reproductions to be published in color has been eliminated, and as from January 1, 2008, there will be a single fee per reproduction, fixed at 17 Swiss francs. The fee per page (where the reproductions are submitted on paper) will remain unchanged, but this fee may be circumvented by filing the application through the e-filing facility that the International Bureau will make available early in 2008.
Revision of the Standard Fee Structure
Secondly, there has been a revision of the standard fee structure. It will be recalled that an international application is subject to the payment of a standard designation fee in respect of each designated Contracting Party that has not made an individual fee declaration.
Apart from the case of an intergovernmental organization, the possibility of making an individual fee declaration is open only to States whose Office carries out of an ex officio novelty examination.
In order to better reflect the nuances that exist between minimal formality examination and ex officio novelty examination, the Hague Assembly has approved an amendment of Rule 12(1)(a)(ii) and (iii) of the Common Regulations under the Hague system, along with a consequential amendment of the Schedule of Fees, for the purpose of introducing three different levels of the standard designation fee, as follows:
– level one, for Contracting Parties whose Office does not carry out examination on substantive grounds;
– level two, for Contracting Parties whose Office carries out examination on substantive grounds other than novelty (for example, on issues such as the definition of a design, public order and morality, or the protection of State emblems);
– level three, for Contracting Parties whose Office carries out examination on substantive grounds, including a limited examination as to novelty (for example, an examination as to local novelty only, when the criterion for the validity of the design right is worldwide novelty), or examination as to novelty following opposition by third parties.
The application of levels two or three will be dependent on the making of a declaration by Contracting Parties, indicating the level of examination carried out by their Office. Otherwise, level one will apply by default. This requirement of a declaration will ensure that users are aware of the precise level of standard designation fee applicable in respect of any given Contracting Party. The making of any such declaration (which could not take effect before April 1st, 2008) will be announced on the WIPO webpage http://www.wipo.int/hague/en/ under ‘Information Notices’
Reduction of Fees for Applicants from Least Developed Countries (LDCs)
Lastly, in order to improve the ability of design creators from LDCs to benefit from the Hague system, the Hague Assembly approved an amendment to the Schedule of Fees, reducing the filing costs for applicants from LDCs.
The listing of countries as ‘least developed’ is established by the General Assembly of the United Nations on the recommendation of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and on the advice of the Committee for Development Policy (CDP). The list is reviewed every three years and may be consulted on the UN and WIPO websites (http://www.un.org/special-rep/ohrlls/ldc/list.htm and www.wipo.int/ldcs/en/country).
Apart from the individual fees which a Contract Party may elect to receive, the amendment will consist of a reduction to 10% of the regular amounts of all the fees prescribed in the Schedule of Fees under the Hague system, rounded to the nearest full figure, for ease of administration, and will come into effect on January 1, 2008. The reduction will be offered to all applicants – whether natural persons or legal entities – whose sole entitlement to file an international application for industrial design protection under the Hague Agreement is a connection with an LDC, in accordance with the list established by the United Nations. If there are several applicants, each will be required to fulfill such criterion.
With respect to the payment of individual fees by design applicants from LDCs, the Assembly of the Hague Union also approved the text of a recommendation intended to encourage Contracting Parties that make, or have made, an individual fees declaration, to indicate that for international applications filed by applicants whose sole entitlement is a connection with an LDC, in accordance with the list established by the United Nations, the individual fee payable with respect to their designation is reduced to 10% of the fixed amount (also rounded, where appropriate, to the nearest full figure).
Further more detailed information on the above matters may be found on the WIPO webpage http://www.wipo.int/hague/en/ under ‘Information Notices’.
Accession to the Geneva Act by the European Community
Finally, WIPO is pleased to be able to inform users of the Hague system that on September 24, 2007, the Council of the European Union deposited with the Director General the instrument of accession of the European Community to the Geneva (1999) Act of the Hague Agreement. The 1999 Act will enter into force with respect to the European Community on January 1, 2008.
The entry into force of the accession by the European Community will also coincide with the introduction by the International Bureau of WIPO of an e-filing facility for Hague users.