International and Non-U.S. Design Law and Practice
By Colin B. Harris
| April 26, 2016
The USPTO's Design Day 2016, held April 19th, started off with a welcoming address from the Commissioner for Patents, Andrew Hirshfeld. Commissioner Hirshfeld noted the increasing importance of design patents, as U.S. design patent application filings have increased from 11,000 in 1987 to 37,000 in 2015. Commissioner Hirschfeld encouraged everyone to submit comments and examples for the application of the Written Description Requirement in Design Applications, which was published on April 15, 2016 (reported here). Commissioner Hirshfeld also announced that 15 design examiners will be working out of the USPTO's San Jose satellite office.
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By David. M. Longo, Ph.D.
| August 6, 2015
On August 5, 2015, WIPO announced (available here) that its Global Design Database (available here) has added more than 1 million design documents based on data from the U.S., Japan, and Spain.

According to the announcement, users can now use the Global Design Database to search industrial designs registered under the WIPO-administered Hague System*, as well as designs from the U.S., Japan, Spain, Canada, and New Zealand. WIPO indicates that it plans to add other countries’ design data “in the coming months.”

The Global Design Database includes a user-friendly customizable interface, including various search categories, filters, and sorting capabilities.

As of this posting, the Global Design Database reports contents of 1.2 million design documents drawn from among 153,044 Canadian designs, 479,755 Japanese designs, 482,444 U.S. designs, 93,683 Spanish designs, 44,132 New Zealand designs, and 40,762 International (Hague) designs.

*The WIPO-administered Hague System has been previously discussed on this blog (here, here, here, and here). More information about the Hague system can be found here.
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By David. M. Longo, Ph.D.
| April 2, 2015
On April 2, 2015, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO") published its Final Rule on Changes to Implement the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs ("Hague Agreement").  80 F.R. 63, pp. 17918-17971.  These changes go into effect on May 13, 2015.  Some of the changes only apply to patent applications filed on or after September 16, 2012 (e.g., power of attorney, application by assignee, inventor’s oath/declaration, and application data sheet).  Other changes only apply to patent applications filed on or after December 18, 2013 (e.g., continuing applications and filing of a certified copy of a previously-filed application).
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By Patrick Miller
| February 13, 2015
On February 13, 2015, the United States deposited its instrument of ratification to the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs (“Hague Agreement”) with the International Bureau of World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”). As such, the treaty will go into effect for the United States three months from the deposit date, on May 13, 2015. Japan is also understood to have deposited its instrument of ratification and is expected to become a member in the same time period as the United States.

As indicated previously on this blog, the Hague Agreement, generally speaking, establishes an international registration system which facilitates protection of industrial designs (i.e., design patents) in member countries and intergovernmental organizations (“Contracting Parties”) by way of a single, “standardized” international design application filed either directly with the International Bureau of WIPO or indirectly through an applicant’s Contracting Party (which will now include the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”)).

As for how the USPTO will process and examine international designs filed pursuant to the Hague Agreement, the USPTO has indicated they will soon publish their Final Rules in this regard, which are expected to go into effect on May 13, 2015 and apply to such international design applications filed on or after May 13, 2015. Among other things, U.S. design patents resulting from international design applications filed on or after May 13, 2015 pursuant to the Hague Agreement will have a 15-year term instead of the current 14-year term for U.S. design patents.
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By Patrick Miller
| November 11, 2014
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) recently updated its public and private Patent Application Information Retrieval (“PAIR”) graphical user interfaces to provide access to information regarding design applications filed pursuant to the Hague Agreement.  Such information will not be available, however, until entry into force of the Hague Agreement with respect to the U.S., which will occur three months after the U.S. deposits its instrument of ratification with the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”), unless that instrument specifies a later date.

Generally speaking, the Hague Agreement establishes an international registration system which facilitates protection of industrial designs (i.e., design patents) in member countries and intergovernmental organizations (“Contracting Parties”) by way of a single, “standardized” international design application filed either directly with the International Bureau of WIPO or indirectly through an applicant’s Contracting Party.
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