China in the Hague Agreement: In force since 5 May 22

China in Hague Agreement

On May 5, 2022, China's accession to the Hague Agreement came into force. International design applications in and from China are simplified now.

Accession of China to the Hague Agreement

As a member of the Hague Agreement, international protection can be applied for designs (HMA). China's accession to the Hague Agreement hasn’t been a surprise; China has aligned with the international rules on IP protection for design protection in China in recent years, including in the renewals to the Chinese Design Law, which came into effect on June 1, 2021.

In January 2022, WIPO announced China's accession to the Hague Agreement. From May 5, 2022, this is in force. The Hague System now covers nine out of ten of the world's major economic markets (according to World Bank rankings), WIPO said in the press release on China's accession to the Hague Agreement.

Hague Agreement - one IP application for all contracting states

As a member of the Hague Agreement, it is possible to claim design protection in any number of Hague Agreement contracting states with just one application for a design.

WIPO automatically notifies the design application for a Contracting State to that Contracting State. And each contracting state examines the design according to its own guidelines. It can then accept or reject the design application.

However, in Europe an application for design protection is only examined with regard to the formal requirements; this applies to the German Patent and Trademark Office as well as to the EUIPO. Essential substantive requirements for protectability, such as novelty and individual character, are not examined by official bodies. Therefore, if there are doubts about the protectability of a design registered for Europe or Germany, it must be challenged in invality proceedings.

We would like add that since the German Design Act (DesignG) came into force in 2014, a design registration for the target country Germany can be challenged by means of invality proceedings before the DPMA. A challenge is therefore less expensive and easier than a challenge in a court of law.

So, now is the right time to decide on design application, the more when on a design application already contemplated. Because with China, another important economic market is joining the Hague System for international design protection.

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