China joins Hague design registration system
On 05 February 2022, China deposited its instrument of accession to the Geneva Act (1999) of the Hague Agreement with the Director General of WIPO. The Hague design registration system will grow further to include 77 member states, effectively covering 94 countries.
The Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs is administered byWIPO and aims to provide a simple and economical route for applicants to seek design protection in multiple member states based on a single application in one language and with one set of fees.
To prepare for Hague system accession, China updated its design patent law on 01 June 2021 to align the provisions under the Hague Agreement. The main areas of refinements include:
- increasing the term of design protection from 10 to 15 years
- providing protection on partial designs
- allowing design applications to claim domestic priority
China has been the top filer of design applications for over a decade. In 2020, China received 770,362 design applications, accounting for 55.5% of all applications filed worldwide (source: World Intellectual Property Indicators 2021 – Figure C16. Equivalent application design counts for the top 20 origins, 2020). It is expected that the Hague system will receive enormous support from Chinese applicants. In fact, a small number of pioneering Chinese companies have already been filing international design applications based on their overseas offices in other Hague member states, making China the ninth-largest user of the Hague system in 2020, before the Hague Agreement even enters into force in the country.
The benefit offered by the Hague System is twofold and bi-directional. In 2020, 18,023 design applications were filed in China by non-resident applicants (source: World Intellectual Property Indicators 2021 – Figure C10. Application design counts for the top 20 offices, 2020). From 05 May 2022, when the deposition takes effect, the Hague system will also provide an alternative route for overseas applicants to seek industrial design protection in China based on an international application filed with the International Bureau of WIPO, other than filing a separate Chinese national application.
Meanwhile, China has specified that the instrument of accession will not be applied in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region or the Macao Special Administrative Region since the IP systems in the two regions are governed by local legislations under the “one country, two systems” constitutional principle.