January 22, 2018

January 22, 2018

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U.S. Law Changes Will Lead to Streamlined Design Protection For Global Products

Companies selling global products frequently take advantage of design protection in multiple countries. Recent U.S. legislation clears the way for streamlined design patent filings in several countries with a single application. The United States took steps last week to join an international agreement that affects the rights of those applying for design patents. On Friday, February 13, 2015, the United States submitted the formal papers necessary for the U.S. to join the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs (Hague Agreement). The terms of the Hague Agreement go into effect in the United States on May 13, 2015. Under the new law, applicants no longer have to pursue design protection in individual countries and can instead file a single international design application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and obtain protection in all countries that are members to the Hague Agreement. The international application can contain up to 100 designs in a single application. The term of designs patents filed on or after May 13, 2015 will change from 14 years to 15 years. The USPTO will soon publish final rules describing how the USPTO will process and examine international applications. Because U.S. Design Patents may only contain a single claim, the rules should clarify how the USPTO will address applications that contain up to 100 designs. By entering the Hague Agreement, the United States sparked several other countries to join, including South Korea and Japan. Canada, China, and Russia are also exploring joining the Hague Agreement.

Design patents concern the visual ornamental characteristics embodied in, or applied to, an article of manufacture. Design patents may cover the shape of an article, surface ornamentation applied to an article, or a combination of both. Design patents are becoming increasingly more valuable in today’s consumer products-driving economy.

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About this Author

Jacob S Wharton, Womble Carlyle, Intellectual Property Attorney, Home Furnishings industry Lawyer

Jake devotes his practice primarily to intellectual property dispute resolution, including patent, trademark, and copyright infringement litigation; proceedings before the Trademark Trial & Appeal Board; trade secret misappropriation litigation; antitrust matters; and related intellectual property disputes. Jake has also counseled clients on defamation and trade libel matters. Prior to focusing on dispute resolution, Jake prepared and prosecuted patent applications in the pharmaceutical, agriculture, biotechnology, and life science technologies. Jake has counseled institutional,...

Jason Hicks, Antitrust Attorney, Womble Carlyle, Government Contracting Lawyer

Jason Hicks is a member of the Firm's Antitrust, Distribution and Franchise Law Practice Group. Jason has experience litigating cases and counseling clients in a wide variety of matters involving federal and state antitrust laws, franchise and dealer protection statutes, unfair and deceptive trade practices, advertising laws and regulations, industry-specific trade regulations, contract disputes, business torts, and constitutional law. Jason's practice focuses on helping clients efficiently and effectively move their products through various levels of distribution by developing strategies to avoid potential problems, complying with applicable laws and regulations, and litigating disputes that arise along the way.