The United States will enhance protections for designs by acceding to the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement on May 13, 2015, making the United States a member of the Hague Union. The new Hague system will allow design innovators in the United States to file a single international design patent application and ultimately obtain protection in numerous countries throughout North America, Europe and Asia. This will offer cost savings, filing efficiencies and increased flexibility over the current system, in which a U.S. applicant must file individual design applications in each country in which rights are sought. The implementing laws will also increase the term of U.S. design patents to 15 years.
Companies should not overlook the importance of protecting industrial designs as an integral part of any intellectual property portfolio. We regularly assist clients in building valuable assets based on ornamental designs. Our efforts will now include navigating the new laws and regulations that will be put in place in the coming months.