New International Patent Protection Effective This Spring
Several years ago the United States adopted the Madrid Protocol, enabling firms in the U.S. to take advantage of international protection for their trademarks. This action enormously simplified the process for protecting trademarks on a worldwide basis, and dramatically reduced the cost of obtaining foreign protection.
Now, in a move that will largely mimic the effects of the Madrid Protocol, the USPTO just announced that the U.S. has become a party to the Hague Agreement with respect to design patents. This action, which becomes effective May 13, 2015, will make it much easier for businesses to protect the ornamental features of their products in the countries where they are sold.
Like international protection for trademarks, the registration of design patents will be administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), located in Geneva, Switzerland. With a single filing made through WIPO, U.S. companies will now be able to extend protection to more than 60 countries.
Many of the major economies in the world are already participants in this system; and it is expected that several remaining large countries will become signatories in the very near future.
The advantages of this system are of enormous consequence to U.S. companies. Instead of filing multiple applications around the world and incurring the expense of local representation, it may now be possible for firms to make a single filing and avoid the need to navigate through the patent agencies of multiple countries. After May 13, 2015, domestic organizations will have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of this treaty.
The intellectual property attorneys at Larkin Hoffman are available at any time to answer your questions about the Hague Agreement and the impact it may have on your business.