Registered design protection is considered by some to be the junior to patents and trademarks and can be overlooked when developing strategies to protect intellectual property.
However, recent data released by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) reinforces that it is not to be forgotten about, and is a valuable form of IP.
The data released shows an increase in registered design filings, with around 1.4 million design applications filed in 2020. But, more interestingly, is the rebound in design applications in 2021 under the Hague system, with a staggering increase of over 20% in Hague design applications from the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the fastest growth in Hague design applications since 2010.
The Hague system allows applicants to submit a single design application and obtain design protection in up to 76 contracting states. The system can provide, depending on the nature of the design, a streamlined approach for obtaining registered design protection.
Until recently China was not a party to the Hague agreement, but, from 5 May 2022 applicants will be able to designate China when filing a design application under the Hague system.
In view of China ratifying the Hague agreement, we can expect that applicants seeking design registrations will further consider filing design applications under the Hague system, as it will now cover 9 out of 10 of the world's top economic markets. It will be interesting to see how the number of design applications filed using the Hague system changes in 2022.