Two Acts of the Hague Agreement are currently in operation – the 1999 Act and the 1960 Act. In September 2009, it was decided to freeze the application of the 1934 Act of the Hague Agreement, thus simplifying and streamlining overall administration of the international design registration system.
An international design registration may be obtained only by a natural person or legal entity having a connection – through establishment, domicile, nationality or, under the 1999 Act, habitual residence – with a Contracting Party to either of the two Acts.
The Hague Agreement allows applicants to register an industrial design by filing a single application with the International Bureau of WIPO, enabling design owners to protect their designs with minimum formalities in multiple countries or regions. The Hague Agreement also simplifies the management of an industrial design registration, since it is possible to record subsequent changes and to renew the international registration through a single procedural step.
An international application may be governed by the 1999 Act, the 1960 Act or both, depending on the Contracting Party with which the applicant has the connection described above (hereafter referred to as "Contracting Party of origin").
International design applications may be filed with the International Bureau of WIPO, either directly or through the industrial property office of the Contracting Party of origin if the law of that Contracting Party so permits or requires. In practice, however, virtually all international applications are filed directly with the International Bureau, and the majority are filed using the electronic filing interface on WIPO's website.
International applications may include up to 100 designs, provided they all belong to the same class of the International Classification for Industrial Designs (Locarno Classification). Applicants may choose to file an application in English, French or Spanish. International applications must contain one or several reproductions of the industrial design(s) and must designate at least one Contracting Party.
International registrations are published in the International Designs Bulletin, issued weekly online. Depending on the Contracting Parties designated, applicants may request that the publication be deferred by a period not exceeding 30 months from the date of the international registration or, if priority is claimed, from the priority date.
Each Contracting Party designated by the applicant may refuse protection within 6 months, or possibly 12 months under the 1999 Act, from the date of publication of the international registration. Refusal of protection can only be based on requirements of the domestic law other than the formalities and administrative acts to be accomplished under the domestic law by the office of the Contracting Party that refuses protection.
If no refusal is notified by a given designated Contracting Party within the prescribed time limit (or if such refusal has subsequently been withdrawn), the international registration has effect as a grant of protection in that Contracting Party, under the law of that Contracting Party.
The term of protection is five years, renewable for at least one five-year period under the 1960 Act, or two such periods under the 1999 Act. If the legislation of a Contracting Party provides for a longer term of protection, protection of the same duration shall, on the basis of the international registration and its renewals, be granted in that Contracting Party to designs that have been the subject of an international registration. To facilitate access to the Hague system for design creators from least developed countries (LDCs), the fees for an international application are, in their case, reduced to 10 per cent of the prescribed amounts.
The 1934 Act
The application of the 1934 Act was frozen as of January 1, 2010, meaning that no new registration or designation under the 1934 Act could be entered in the International Register as of that date. However, the renewal of existing designations under the 1934 Act and the recording in the International Register of any change affecting such designations will continue to be possible up to the maximum duration of protection under the 1934 Act (15 years).
The WIPO Secretariat publishes a Guide to the International Registration of Industrial Designs for users of the Hague system.
The Hague Agreement, concluded in 1925, was revised at London in 1934 and at The Hague in 1960. It was completed by an Additional Act signed at Monaco in 1961 and by a Complementary Act signed at Stockholm in 1967, which was amended in 1979. As noted above, a further Act was adopted at Geneva in 1999.
The Hague Agreement created a Union, which, since 1970, has had an Assembly. Every member of the Union that has adhered to the Complementary Act of Stockholm is a member of the Assembly. Among the most important tasks of the Assembly are the adoption of the biennial program and budget of the Union and the adoption and modification of the implementing regulations, including the fixing of the fees connected with the use of the Hague system.
The 1999 Act of the Agreement is open to any WIPO Member State and to certain intergovernmental organizations. Instruments of ratification or accession must be deposited with the Director General of WIPO. While the 1960 Act remains open to States party to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883), it is the more advantageous 1999 Act that governments of prospective Contracting Parties are encouraged to join.