United Kingdom joins the international design system
Increased flexibility when seeking protection in the UK via the international route

The UK has ratified the Hague Agreement for the international registration of industrial designs. When the system comes into effect in three months’ time, applicants will have the option of designating the UK individually. This will be in addition to the current possibility of designating the EU as a whole.

The UK’s participation in the international design system ensures that protection for designs in the UK can be sought via the international design system regardless of the final form of the UK’s proposed departure from the EU.

The International Design System

The UK joins 67 existing members of the international design system. Other members include the United States, Japan, the EU, Switzerland, Norway, and the Republic of Korea.

A single international design application can be filed designating any number of the members (subject to certain applicant requirements).

Advantages of the international approach

Filing one central international application can result in cost savings compared to filing separate applications at each national/regional office. The management of the subsequent international registration is also greatly simplified by the ability to record changes and pay renewal fees centrally.

Further cost savings are possible by combining multiple designs into one international design application. Up to 100 designs of the same classification are permitted in one application.

Disadvantages of the international approach

The single international application will need to fulfil all of the local requirements for the jurisdictions designated. Also, the protection resulting from the international application will be dictated by the depictions of the design filed with the international design application. Therefore, it needs to be considered whether a single application and set of design depictions will be sufficient for the protection desired in all of the jurisdictions designated. This is especially relevant given the regional variations in requirements and interpretation of design depictions.

Ultimately, the national/regional offices are able to determine whether to grant protection to the international registration in their jurisdictions.