China Joins the Hague System for International Registration of Industrial Designs
On 5 February 2022 China announced it is joining the Hague System for International Registration of Industrial Designs. From 5 May 2022, Applicants will be able to designate China as part of an International Design Application along with other major jurisdictions that include the USA, EU, UK, Japan and Canada. The announcement also states that the Chinese office have made Declarations requiring that an Application must meet the need for unity of design and provides an explanation of the characteristic features of the design. Specific views of the design must also be provided. Further information as to the full list of requirements is awaited.
China’s announcement will be seen as a positive development given its importance as a manufacturing base and where rights to a design can only be obtained through registration. A Hague designation will provide significant costs savings to national applications using local counsel. However, the announcement by China that it will stipulate specific requirements also serves as a reminder that the Hague system may only be appropriate for more simple designs. Design law and practice around the world is uneven and the requirements of the national offices to confirm protection, in China and elsewhere, can often be different and sometimes contradictory. Seeking input from local counsel may therefore still be important for more complex designs, particularly in China where an absolute novelty rule applies. If the Hague application fails in China as a result of insurmountable objections, users will not get the chance to protect the design again.