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International Design Patent Applications Will Be Available to U.S. Applicants

February 19, 2015

By: Darrell L. Wong

Hamilton Brook Smith Reynolds Alert

  • U.S. applicants will soon be able to file an International Design Patent Application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
  • Change will go into effect May 13, 2015.
  • The term of design protection in the U.S. will change from a 14 year term to a 15 year term.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced significant changes to rules applicable to international design patents and extended the patent term for some design patents. Specifically, according to the USPTO, as of May 13, 2015, U.S. applicants can file a single international design application to obtain protection in multiple countries or regions. Such an application can include up to 100 different designs. U.S. design patents issued from such applications will have a 15 year term. The USPTO will continue to substantively examine design applications. The USPTO reports that the final rules governing USPTO processing and examination of international design applications will be published soon.

The impetus for these rule changes is ratification by the United States of the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs (Hague Agreement) with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva, Switzerland announced on February 13, 2015.

The member countries and regions of the Hague Agreement currently listed on the WIPO website are fairly limited, but the list includes the European Union and South Korea. Japan is expected to become a member soon. Currently, Canada, China and Russia are also considering membership.

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