Brussels, 25 September 2007
The European Community submitted yesterday to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva its instrument of accession to the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement concerning the international registration of industrial designs. This accession will allow EU 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. It will simplify procedures, reduce the costs for international protection and make administration easier. The system will become operational for businesses on 1 January 2008.
Internal Market and Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said: "European businesses will now be able to obtain and protect their designs internationally in a simple, affordable and effective way. This should further stimulate trade and innovation, create new commercial opportunities and boost integration within the EU Internal Market."
The accession of the European Community (EC) to the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement establishes a link between the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement system, which is administered by WIPO, and the Community design system, which is administered by the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) in Alicante (Spain), to which all applications for Community Designs are submitted.
As from 1 January 2008, when the system enters into force, Community designers will be allowed to apply for international protection of their designs under the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement. Conversely, designers established in one of the contracting parties of the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement will be entitled to apply for protection of their designs under the Community design system.
The registered Community Design system has been operational since 1 April 2003 and provides for the acquisition of protection for designs with unitary effect for the whole territory of the EU. The total number of registered and published Community designs exceeded 267 000 in August 2007.
The Geneva Act is the most recent of the three treaties of the Hague Agreement. It entered into force on 23 December 2003. So far 23 countries have become party to the Geneva Act, including Singapore, Turkey and Switzerland. The total number of registered deposits under the Hague Agreement system amounts to almost 146 000 until 2006.
The Geneva Act system allows designers to obtain protection through a single international application filed with the International Bureau of WIPO, replacing a whole series of registrations with different national or regional offices. An international registration produces the same effects in each of the designated countries as if the design had been registered there directly, unless protection is refused by the competent Office of that country.
The Council agreed on the deposit of the instrument of accession on 18
December 2006. The Commission adopted the necessary modifications of the
implementing rules on 24 July 2007 (see IP/07/1160).