It is known that several Chinese companies, such as Huawei, ZTE, Midea, Lenovo, Xiomi and Gee, have already signed up to the Hague agreement and have used it to protect their design patents through the so-called « backdoor » applications. The importance of the application of « backdoor means » is the situation in which an international company is headquartered in a country outside the Hague system, which can use its foreign subsidiaries to file an international application. The « Locarno Agreement » is an agreement that defines the international classification for industrial models, modification procedures and additions, etc. In Japan, the Locarno Agreement came into force on 24 September 2014. Since September 2014, 54 countries (including Japan) have joined the Locarno Agreement. In May, CNIPA began negotiations with WIPO for China`s accession to the Hague Agreement, a treaty that helps international recordings of industrial designs. Under the agreement, a commercial design is protected by all contracting parties by a single application. [Example of deferral period] 30 months maximum: EU, France, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, South Korea, Turkey, Japan Maximum 12 months:OAPI (African Intellectual Property Organization) 6 months maximum:Denmark, Norway is not allowed:United States, Poland, Singapore (Note that the content of the international registration is published on a date when the shortest deferral period between the prescribed deadlines in some countries is the shortest). Gao Xiaoli, a Beijing lawyer specializing in patent cases, said it would be good news for Chinese and companies holding patents for industrial design if China joins the agreement. On 6 July 2020, the National People`s Congress of China (NPC) published its latest draft law on patents for public notice,, including a patent indexation system, an extension of the patent period for pharmaceutical patents, an increase in damages for patent violations, a provision relating to the transfer of the burden of proof. , the availability of design patents for partial projects and increased reward opportunities for employees.
Although the data show that the Hague system is becoming increasingly popular over time, the number of applications filed through the Hague system remains significantly lower than the number of registered applications for designs filed with many national or regional IP offices. One of the factors that could discourage the use of the Hague system is its coverage. Although the Hague system now has 70 members in 88 countries, major production sites such as China and India are not members of the system. However, the proportion of designs submitted by Asian applicants is increasing as more and more Asian countries join the Hague system. As shown in the graph above, the proportion of designs submitted by applicants from Asian countries increased from 2.8% in 2008 to 20.4% in 2018, as Japan and South Korea joined the Hague system during this period. The proportion of designs submitted by applicants from Asian countries is expected to continue to increase in the future, particularly if China adheres to the Hague system in due course (see below). An applicant to the Hague system may choose to protect his or her design with up to 70 designated members in 88 countries. The applicant must choose its designated members at the time of the presentation and, normally, no additional members can be added after the filing. The WIPO report shows that the EU remains the most popular designated member in terms of the number of designs, as has been the case since 2010.
In particular, the number of designs in American denominations increased by 8.5%. This could be a sign that applicants to the Hague system are becoming more comfortable involving the United States as designated members rather than seeking design protection by filing a separate national application.