IP and SMEs – Leveraging the Hague System to Increase Global Competitiveness

April 26, 2021

Every year on April 26, WIPO celebrates World Intellectual Property Day. The spotlight this year is on the key role that intellectual property (IP) rights play in helping SMEs build stronger and more competitive businesses. Here in the Hague Registry, we are taking a closer look at how SMEs can:

  • use designs to obtain wider market recognition and visibility; and
  • leverage the Hague System to increase their global competitiveness.

Why should SMEs protect their designs?

Design – shape, form, color, etc. – is one of the key influencing factors when we choose one product over another. A strong design will help you to differentiate your products from those of your competitors, compete with larger companies and obtain wider market recognition and visibility.

Designs – a valuable business asset


Design protection should be a central part of your SME’s business strategy. Exclusive rights – allowing you to license others to use your design for a fee – and protection against copying and counterfeits will strengthen your competitive position and the commercial value of your business and its products.

This in turn will stimulate growth and, as your SME expands into new global markets, the need to protect your designs on an international scale becomes paramount. This is where the Hague System comes into play.

WIPO’s Hague System – the simple and economical solution to international design protection

Filing for and managing multiple individual national rights can be a major headache, not least because procedures and languages differ from one country to another. You may need help from local attorneys, agents and even translators. As an SME, you may not have the time, resources or expertise to dedicate to the process.

Using WIPO’s Hague System, you can quickly, easily and safely secure, manage and renew international design protection simultaneously in multiple countries or regions through just one application. WIPO offers central management of your design portfolio – in one language, with one set of fees and a minimum of formalities – providing protection for up to 100 designs per application, in over 90 countries.

The Hague System saves you time and money, replacing multiple national and regional applications and registrations by just one international application and registration.

Supporting you throughout the lifecycle of your designs

A host of Hague System online services and resources are available for searching, filing and managing international designs. You can:

  • find out what your competitors are doing by searching, e.g., the Global Design Database;
  • digitally file your applications and renew your registrations in one click through eHague;
  • time the publication of your international registration to fit your business strategy going public only when you are ready to unveil your design on the market;
  • make the most of an ever-expanding global network of contracting parties;
  • ask for help whenever you need it through Contact Hague.

Find out more