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The Hague Agreement: A New Frontier For U.S. Design Patent Applicants

By Marshall J. Brown of Foley & Lardner LLP

Marshall J. Brown is a partner with Foley & Lardner LLP. He is vice chair of the Mechanical & Electromechanical Technologies Practice and a member of the Electronics, Trademark, Copyright & Advertising and China Practices. His counseling work includes U.S. and foreign patent prosecution; patent clearance matters; patent infringement and validity opinions; freedom to operate studies; and intellectual property due diligence in mergers and acquisitions.

After more than 13 years of on-and-off efforts, the United States is finally on the verge of becoming a member of the Hague Agreement concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs (the “Hague Agreement”). Even though the United States was one of the original 1999 signatories to the Geneva Act for the Hague Agreement, the Senate did not ratify the treaty until 2007, and the final implementing legislation was only signed into law on December 18, 2012.1 The implementing legislation will likely take effect around December 18, 2013 or shortly thereafter, depending upon when the United States submits the final instrument of ratification with the World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”).

With such a lengthy incubation period for the US accession to the Hague Agreement, and given the relatively low profile of the Hague Agreement inside the US patent community, US practitioners have mu...

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