Beginning May 13, 2015, U.S. entities will be able to take advantage of an expedited registration system for protecting their product designs internationally. Applicants will be able to file a single international application in a single language to obtain protection for up to 100 industrial designs in over 64 territories. U.S. applicants can file applications through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO). U.S. design patents resulting from applications filed on or after May 13, 2015 will be granted a 10 year term of issuance.
The new system is implemented by provisions of Title I of the Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act of 2012 (PLTIA), the U.S. legislation that implements the 1999 Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs (Hague Agreement).
Canada has yet to make the necessary legislative changes to implement the Hague Agreement, but expects to do so by late 2016. Once ratified, Canadians will be able to participate in the program directly through the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO). In the meantime, Canadian individuals and businesses may be able to participate through the U.S. system provided they have sufficient ties to the U.S. In particular, an applicant must satisfy at least one of the following conditions:
- Be a national of a Contracting Party;
- Be a national of a Member State of an intergovernmental organization which is a Contracting Party (such as the European Union or the African Intellectual Property Organization);
- Have a domicile in the territory of a Contracting Party;
- Have a real and effective industrial or commercial establishment in the territory of a Contracting Party, or only under the Geneva (1999) Act;
- Have a habitual residence in a Contracting Party. [WIPO]