Good news for UK designs
The UK’s ratification of the Hague Agreement on 13 March 2018 means that it will soon be possible to obtain UK design protection by an additional route.
At present, it is possible to obtain UK design protection via a UK registered design application, a European Community registered design application, or a WIPO international design application designating the EU. From 13 June 2018, it will also be possible to file an international application and directly designate the UK. This change is good news for businesses looking to protect their designs in the UK after Brexit, when it will no longer be possible to obtain UK design protection indirectly via an EU route.
The additional route will also offer businesses more flexibility when deciding how to obtain UK design protection. International applications are a cost-effective choice for businesses looking to file a single application to obtain protection in a number of territories. However, filing an international application and designating the EU can be an expensive option for businesses looking to obtain protection in only a small number of EU member states. From 13 June 2018, it will be possible to designate the UK instead of (or in addition to) the EU, leading to potential savings for businesses, depending on what protection is required.
In summary, there are currently a number of ways to obtain UK design protection and the options will expand on 13 June 2018 to include filing an international application and designating the UK, thus safeguarding against the impact of Brexit. After Brexit, it will still be possible to file international applications from the UK, including those designating the EU and/or the UK, ensuring that the UK retains a key role in obtaining international design protection for businesses.