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EC Accedes To Industrial Designs Treaty

by Ulrika Lomas, for, Brussels

26 September 2007

World Intellectual Property Organization Director General, Dr Kamil Idris, on Tuesday welcomed the accession by the European Community (EC) to the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs, which offers businesses in all participating countries a simple, affordable and efficient way of obtaining and maintaining their industrial designs.

An industrial design is the ornamental or aesthetic aspect of a useful article, in other words, that aspect which makes the article attractive and appealing. It may consist of three-dimensional features, such as the shape or surface of an article or two-dimensional features, such as patterns, lines or colors. These features add to an article's commercial value and increase its marketability. An industrial design is essentially non-functional; it is something primarily of an aesthetic nature, and does not relate to technical features of an article.

"The accession of the European Community marks a milestone in the development of the Hague system for the international registration of industrial designs. This is a major step towards broadening the geographical scope of the international design registration system," observed Dr Idris.

He added that:

“The accession of the EC creates an interface between WIPO’s international industrial design operations and those of the EC’s industrial design system allowing users to obtain protection in the whole of the EC as well as the other members of the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement by filing one single application for the registration of their industrial designs.”

Such an international registration will have effect in as many members of the Geneva Act as identified in the application for registration, except those that refuse protection within the required time-limit. If protection is not refused by the EC’s industrial design office, the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (Trademarks and Designs) (OHIM), protection of the industrial designs in question will be effective in all 27 EC member states just as if the applicant had applied or registered directly with OHIM.

The EC’s instrument of accession was deposited with the Director General of WIPO on September 24, 2007, and its accession will become effective as from January 1, 2008.

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