New Act of Hague Agreement Adopted by Consensus

Geneva, July 2, 1999
Press Releases PR/1999/179

The Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Dr. Kamil Idris, welcomed the successful conclusion of the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning International Registration of Industrial Designs, which was adopted by consensus on Friday and will be open for signature on Tuesday July 6, 1999.

"We are delighted with the outcome of the Diplomatic Conference and the positive spirit of cooperation that prevailed throughout the talks and resulted in consensus on all the issues discussed", said Dr. Idris. The Director General said "We look forward to the entry into force of the Geneva Act as we are sure that it will help fulfill the tremendous potential of the Hague system by offering an even more flexible, cost-effective and user-friendly means for companies and individuals across the globe to protect their industrial designs."

Addressing the closing session of the Diplomatic Conference, the President, Ambassador Philippe Petit, also congratulated delegates on the successful outcome of the Conference. Ambassador Petit, France’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, expressed hope that the new Act would be ratified by a large number of states pointing out that this would contribute to wider use of the Hague system. In closing remarks, many delegations lauded the spirit of cooperation that reigned throughout the three-week talks and heralded the new Act as a milestone in the history of industrial design protection.

The new Act, which requires six ratifications before entering into force, introduces a number of important changes to the Hague system for the registration of industrial designs. To date, this has been governed by the Hague Act (1960) and London Act (1934) concerning the International Deposit of Industrial Designs. The Geneva Act enhances the existing system for the international registration of industrial designs by making it more compatible with the registration systems in countries such as the United States and Japan where protection of industrial designs is contingent on examination to determine the acceptability of an application. The Geneva Act seeks to broaden the geographical scope of international industrial design protection. Over 80 delegations were involved in the negotiations to adopt the Geneva Act.

The new Act requires contracting parties to process international registrations according to their own legislation within a period of six months which may be extended by a further six months for those contracting parties whose law requires examination of the novelty of the registered design. It also introduces a modified fee system, the possibility of deferring publication of a design for up to 30 months and the ability to file samples of the design rather than photographs or other graphic reproductions. The latter features are of particular interest to the textile and fashion industries.

The Hague system offers owners of an industrial design a simplified means of applying for protection of a design in several countries by submitting a single international application. Without the system an owner would have to file separate applications in each of the countries in which protection was sought.

An industrial design is the ornamental or aesthetic aspect of a useful article, in other words, those features of an article which make it attractive and appealing and add to its commercial value and increase its marketability. Industrial designs are of significant economic interest to commercial enterprises.

One of the main advantages of using the Hague system is that it allows users to include up to as many as 100 designs in each international application that is made. In 1998, WIPO registered about 4,000 international deposits each covering on average 11 countries, equivalent to about 45,000 national applications which had the effect of protecting a total of 19,000 designs. This represented a 40% increase on the number deposited 10 years previously.

For further information, please contact the Media Relations & Public Affairs Section, at WIPO:

Tel: (+41 22) 338 81 61 or 338 95 47
Fax: (+41 22) 338 88 10

Related Press Releases: PR/99/175 and PR/99/177