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Brussels, 22 December 2005

Industrial property: Commission proposes linking of EU design registration system with WIPO international system

The European Commission has presented two proposals to link the 'Community Design' system, which protects designs within the EU, with the international design registration system of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). The proposals would allow companies, with a single application, to obtain protection of a design not only throughout the EU with the Community Design, but also in the countries which are members of the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement concerning the international registration of industrial designs. The first proposal relates to the accession of the European Community (EC) to the Geneva Act. The second proposal contains the necessary provisions to give effect to that accession, in particular through an amendment of Council Regulation No 6/2002 on Community Designs.

Internal Market and Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said: "These proposals will allow EU firms to safeguard valuable design rights with less bureaucracy while at the same time encouraging them to trade with third countries in the knowledge that their design rights are protected. I hope that the Council will now adopt these proposals as soon as possible."

In 2004 the Commission launched a consultation with interested parties on the possible impact on business of EC accession to the Hague system. An overwhelming majority of businesses, professional organisations and Member States were in favour of accession in the near future.

The Community Design system[1], which became fully operational on 1 April 2003, provides for the acquisition of protection for designs with unitary effect for the whole territory of the EU. The Office for the Harmonization in the Internal Market (Trade Marks and Designs), which is located in Alicante (Spain), is in charge of handling the administration of the registered Community designs.

The Geneva Act, signed on 2 July 1999, became fully operational on 1 April 2004. It allows designers to obtain design protection in a number of countries through a single international registration filed with the International Bureau of WIPO, replacing a whole series of registrations with different national or regional offices.

This simplified procedure would lead to a saving of costs: there would no longer be a need to provide translations of the documents, to keep watch on the different deadlines for renewal of a great number of national registrations and to pay a series of national fees and fees to agents in different countries.

All this would have a positive impact on research, development and innovation activities. The simplified procedure would also facilitate access to protection in third countries, which would encourage EU companies to trade with these countries in the knowledge that their designs are protected.

The creation of a link between the Community design system and the Hague arrangement would benefit a wide range of industrial sectors, in particular textiles, furniture, cars, jewellery and mobile phones.

So far 18 countries have become party to the Geneva Act, including Singapore, Korea, Turkey and Switzerland.
For more information see:

[1] Council Regulation (EC) No 6/2002 on Community Designs, OJ No L 3, 5.1.2002, p.1.

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