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International Design

The Hague Agreement on the International design is sub-divided into three international agreements:

  • the London Act (1934)
  • the Hague Act (1960)
  • the Geneva Act (1999)

These different agreements pose problems concerning the correct definition of the protection obtainable. Italy signed the Hague Act of 1960, and as a member of the European Community, is party to the Geneva Act of 1999.

The countries signatory to the Hague Act are as follows: Albania, Belize, Benelux, Benin, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Kyrgyzstan, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Liechtenstein, Republic of Macedonia, Mali, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Montenegro, Niger, Romania, Senegal, Serbia, Slovenia, Surinam, Switzerland, United States of America, Ukraine.

The countries signatory to the Geneva Convention are as follows: African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI), Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Republic of Korea, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, European Community, Finland, France, Georgia, Ghana, Hungary, Iceland, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Namibia, Oman, Romania, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Ukraine.

Only those people or juridical bodies with nationality, or which have their domicile, or a stable industrial or commercial organization, in one of the member countries, can file an international application. The Geneva Act says that an application can be filed if one has a habitual residence in a contracting State.

The filing of an International design does not necessarily have to be preceded by a corresponding filing in the applicant's country of origin. The advantage of choosing the International Design to protect one's designs is a typically economic advantage, in that it allows the proprietor to include the States of interest that are members of the specific conventions, with a single procedure.

Within 6 months of the publication of the International design, according to the Hague Convention (within 12 months according to the Geneva Convention), the national administrations can raise objections according to their national laws, since the effects of International designs in individual countries are governed by specific national laws.

At present, the duration of an International design is 5 years from the filing date, renewable every five years up to the time limit laid down by the specific national laws.

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