The United States is currently in the final stages of implementing an international treaty related to design rights known as the Hague Agreement.
The Hague Agreement simplifies the process for obtaining international design rights by allowing an applicant to file a single, standardized international design application that may then be pursued in any member nations designated by the applicant. This procedure is roughly similar to the one for international utility patent applications provided for by the Patent Cooperation Treaty.
On January 14, the USPTO held a public forum to discuss its proposed rules for implementing the Hague Agreement.
The proposed rules include the following major changes for design applicants:
- Standardizing formal requirements for international design applications;
- Establishing the USPTO as an office through which international design applications may be filed and examined;
- Providing a right of priority with respect to international design applications; and
- Extending the patent term for design patents from 14 to 15 years from the date of patent grant, for applications filed on or after the date of entry into force of the treaty with respect to the United States, a date which is still forthcoming.