Francis Gurry led WIPO as Director General from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2020.

United States of America, Japan Join International Design System

Geneva, February 13, 2015

The United States of America and Japan have joined the Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs, adding two of the world’s biggest economies to a WIPO-administered registry that supports creators worldwide.

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The nations acceded to the Hague System by depositing official instruments at WIPO headquarters in Geneva, where officials from the two countries met with WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. The accessions broaden the geographical scope of protection of industrial designs, bringing membership in the Hague System to 64 contracting parties.

“Designers in Japan and the USA can now readily protect and promote their industrial designs in dozens of other countries around the globe that are Hague members,” said Mr. Gurry. “And designers in those countries now have easier access to protection in two of the largest global economies. This is a win for businesses and designers everywhere and signals a major advancement for one of WIPO’s premier registry services.”

“Designs are becoming increasingly important in the global economy and a well-conceived design is globally recognizable,” said US Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva, Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto, adding: “The Hague System will mean more filing efficiencies and potential cost savings for U.S. applicants in pursuing protection for their innovative industrial designs around the world, as well as for foreign applicants seeking protection in the United States.”

US Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto and WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. (photo: WIPO).
Japan Ambassador Misako Kaji, Japan Patent Office Deputy Commissioner Yoshitake Kihara and WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. (photo: WIPO).

Japan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva, Ambassador Yoichi Otabe said: “Sales and employment stemming from Japan’s design industry have nearly tripled in a decade.” He noted that “Japan has been actively promoting Japanese culture and traditions, including the attractiveness of Japanese designs. With this accession to the Hague Agreement, Japan has great expectations for the contributions we will make toward efforts to advance further collaborative, international initiatives on intellectual property.”

According to WIPO statistics, 7.1% of the world’s design applications were filed in 2013 with the national offices in the United States (3.8%) and Japan (3.3%). Some 12.9% of all design applications worldwide were filed by applicants from the United States (8.2%) and Japan (4.7%). The accession of the United States and Japan is expected to boost further expansion of the Hague System and encourage other countries to consider joining the Hague Agreement.


The Hague System offers a cost-effective, efficient means of registration of industrial designs in a large number of countries, providing design owners broad geographical protection of their designs with a minimum of formality and expense. Through a single application filed with WIPO, either electronically or on paper, a design can be registered in the 64 countries and intergovernmental organizations that are members of the Hague Agreement, which is underpinned by a series of international treaties.

The international registration produces the same effect of a grant of protection in each of the designated contracting parties as if the design had been registered directly with each national office, unless protection is refused by the national office.

International registrations are published weekly in the International Designs Bulletin on the WIPO web site. The international registration is valid for an initial period of five years and may be renewed.

One of the major advantages of the Hague System is the centralized subsequent management, such as renewals and modifications, of the international registration.

About WIPO

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the global forum for intellectual property policy, services, information and cooperation. A specialized agency of the United Nations, WIPO assists its 193 member states in developing a balanced international IP legal framework to meet society's evolving needs. It provides business services for obtaining IP rights in multiple countries and resolving disputes. It delivers capacity-building programs to help developing countries benefit from using IP. And it provides free access to unique knowledge banks of IP information.

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