International Design Applications under the Hague System

CCPIT Patent & Trademark Law Office China


            *Brief Introduction of the Hague System

            *Why choosing to file the Hague Design Applications

            *Application Procedures and Documentation



  1. Brief Introduction of the Hague System

The Hague System for international design applications offers the owner of a design a means of obtaining up to 15 years of protection in several countries by filing one application in one language, with one set of fees in one currency.

By filing a single international application with WIPO, the Hague System implements a practical business solution for registering up to 100 designs in 96 countries at one time, including two inter-governmental organizations: the African Intellectual Property Organization and the European Union Intellectual Property Office. Essentially, it provides global coverage for design application filings, much like the PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty) does for patent applications. To be eligible to use the Hague System, individuals must meet any of the criteria below:

  • Being a national of one of the contracting parties to the Hague Agreement.
  • Having a domicile or habitual residence in one of the contracting parties.
  • Having a real and effective industrial or commercial establishment in one of the contracting parties.
  1. Why choosing to file the Hague Design Applications

The advantages of Hague Design Applications can be concluded as:


  • Broader International Design Layout Strategies. By utilizing the Hague design applications, applicants can implement comprehensive international design layout strategies to secure global product layout and innovation protection from the outset. This approach offers extensive protection opportunities in over 96 countries.
  • Easier and more convenient application procedures. The Hague System proposes a simpler and more convenient application procedure by allowing applicants to choose from English, French, and Spanish as filing languages, thus eliminating the requirement for extensive translations into other languages. Additionally, applicants have the flexibility to defer publication of their designs with more precise timing options, calculated by month.
  • Lower costs. Cost of filing a Hague Design application may vary depending on the number of designs included. Generally, filing more designs together results in a lower cost per design. Designs in the same class can be submitted together in a single application, allowing for separation in later national stages. This approach can significantly reduce filing costs.
  • More time for preparation of Office actions. With the Hague System, applicants have the flexibility of up to 4 months to address office actions in the chosen language at the time of filing, which is twice the standard 2-month response time in Chinese, if before the CNIPA.
  • No strict rules for the choice of representatives. The Hague System does not place any restrictions or requirements on the qualifications of agents in the international phase.
  1. Application Procedures and Documentation

3.1 Application Procedures


As the receiving office of the international design applications under Hague System, WIPO will do a formality examination upon receiving an application. If there are any irregularity issues, the applicant needs to respond within three months. If the requirements are met, WIPO will register the design application and issue an international registration certificate. The international registration will be published in the International Gazette. For the publication time, the applicant has three options: 1. Immediate publication, as soon as the International Bureau is ready, usually within one month; 2. Standard publication, published 12 months after the international registration date. 3.Delayed publication, the maximum delay is 30 months, and if one chooses to delay publication, he or she can also request publication halfway through.

After publication, substantive examination is conducted, and the contracting parties may directly authorize the granting of the design application or issue a notification of refusal. The rejection period varies, generally within 6 months or 12 months (for instance China). The latest rejection deadline is 36-42 months. If no refusal has been issued, protection is deemed to be granted automatically.

Upon the design's grant, the applicant will be granted a protection term of 5 years. Renewal is required to secure the next five-year protection term, with the option for 2 renewals resulting in a minimum total protection term of 15 years. Partial renewal is also possible, which allows for the selective renewal of the international registration for specific contracting parties or certain designs, providing flexibility in managing the design protection.


3.2 Application Documentation


You will need to prepare the documentation listed below.


  • One application form (electronic) DM1 FORM, you have the option to either fill out the DM1 electronic form or enter your information directly online using the E-Hague platform.
  • Reproductions of the design application. The images must meet the requirements of WIPO and try to meet the requirements of the designated contracting parties too, because even if international registration is obtained through WIPO, it is possible for a contracting party to reject the effectiveness of the design on the grounds of for example insufficient disclosure, clarity in the published copy.
  • Description of the design application. Contracting parties like China, Romania, Vietnam, and Syria require a description to be submitted. Failure to do so will be considered non-compliant, leading to a delay in international registration.
  • Information about the creator of the design.
  • Priority document. WIPO does not examine priority documents. Applicants may provide a DAS code for designated contracting parties' competent authorities to verify through WIPO DAS System. However, some certain contracting parties require direct submission of priority documents, such as US, Mexico, Turkey, and Russia.
  • Choosing the Locarno class of the design.
  • Choosing the designated States of the design.
  • Deciding the publication timing of the design.
  • Payment of the design fees. You can use the Fee calculator on the WIPO website for a detailed cost estimate for your design filings.
  1. Conclusion

From the aspects of the basic introduction, procedures, documentation, the WIPO tries to provide, through the Hague System, a user-friendly, affordable, and accessible way of protecting new designs. It seems that individuals can apply themselves through E-Hague with the necessary documents without the help of any experts at the international level.


However, it is important to note that registration of a design application at the international level doesn't mean that the right holder can obtain effective design protection in the respective jurisdictions, and that some defects in the application, which may be raised during the national phase upon substantive or partially substantive examination, may not be overcome anymore once the international design application is filed. A design expert knowing not only the formality requirements of the Hague system, but also the substantive requirements and practices of the different jurisdictions, can help the right holder get more stable and reasonable design protection.


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CCPIT Patent & Trademark Law Office

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