International protection of designs

Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs

The Hague Agreement offers the possibility of obtaining industrial design protection in several contracting countries through a single international application submitted to the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva, Switzerland. In this way, an international application replaces a series of applications that would otherwise have to be submitted to different national offices.The Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs is managed by the WIPO International Bureau, which maintains an international register and publishes the International Bulletin of Industrial Designs.Bulgaria is a member of the Hague Union and is a party to the two treaties administered by WIPO - Act 1960 and Act 1999 of the Hague Agreement.

Who can apply for international registration?

An application for the international registration of an industrial design may be filed by any natural or legal person who is of nationality or registered office of a country - party to the Hague Agreement, as well as any natural or legal person who, without nationality or registered office in any of these countries, but has an address registration or an effectively operating industrial or commercial enterprise in the territory of any of these countries.

Term of protection

The term of protection of the design with the international registration is 5 years with the possibility of one-time extension for a period of another 5 years. Where national law provides for a term of protection of more than 10 years, the design subject to international registration shall be protected for the period provided for by national law.

Applying for International Registration

Submission of an international application does not require prior national application or registration. To apply, it is necessary to complete an application for international registration in one of the languages of the Agreement (English, French or Spanish), using the standard form (Forms-DM / 1) of the WIPO International Bureau, accompanied by images of the design on a clean white sheet in A4 format and paid fees.

Content of the International Application

An international application can contain several different designs ("multiple application") - a maximum of 100. However, all designs included in the same application must belong to the same class of the Locarno International Classification. The application must be accompanied by the following documents:

  • a duly signed power of attorney by the applicant if the application is filed by a patent attorney and is not signed by the applicant;
  • a photographic image or other graphic representation of the design or product to which the designs are attached or included. The same product may be represented from several angles, each presentation of the product from another angle must appear in a separate photographic or graphic image;
  • if the applicant wants the publication to be made in color, the application must be accompanied by a color photo or graphic image;

the application may be accompanied by samples or mock-ups of the product (s) (optional).

The applicant may request a postponement of the publication for a maximum period of 12 months (under the 1960 Act) or 30 months (under the 1999 Act) from the date of application or from the priority date when there is a claim for priority.

Three types of fees are payable for an international application: a basic fee, a publication fee and a standard or individual fee for designating each Contracting Party in which protection is sought.


Upon receipt of the international application, the International Bureau shall verify that it meets the formal requirements. It does not evaluate and does not commit to the novelty of the design, i.e. does not refuse the international application grounds related to the material requirements.

An international application that meets the formal requirements shall be entered in the International Register and published in the International Design Bulletin (except when a deferred publication is requested). The publication is made on the WIPO website and contains all data on the international registration, including images of industrial designs.

Following the publication in the International Design Bulletin on the Internet, each Office shall specify in which international registrations it has been indicated in order to proceed with the material expertise, if provided for by its national law. As a result of this expertise, the Office may notify the International Bureau that it is refusing protection on its territory.

The International Bureau shall be notified of the denial of protection, if any, within six months from the date of publication of the international registration on the WIPO website. However, under the 1999 Act, any Contracting Party whose Office carries out an examination or whose laws provide for the possibility of opposition to the granting of protection may declare that the six-month withdrawal period shall be replaced by a period of 12 months.

In the event of a notification of refusal, the holder has the same remedies as he would have had if he had submitted the application in question directly with the national authority in question.

If the holder disputes the refusal, the follow-up procedure shall be conducted entirely at national level in accordance with the requirements and procedures provided for in the applicable national legislation.

In each designated Contracting Party to which the Office has not notified a refusal (or has subsequently withdrawn its refusal), international registration has the effect of protecting industrial design, granted under the law of that Contracting Party. More details on the requirements for processing applications for international registration can be found on the WIPO website.

Advantages of the system

The system for international registration of industrial designs was created due to the need for simplification and economy of this type of protection. In practice, it enables design holders from the contracting parties to receive protection for their designs at a minimum of formalities and costs.Holders of designs shall be exempted in particular from the need to file a separate national application in each of the Contracting Parties in which they seek protection, thus avoiding the complications arising from differences in procedures in different countries. They do not have to submit documents in different languages, nor do they have to follow the deadlines for renewing a whole series of national registrations that differ from country to country. In addition, you do not have to pay fees in different currencies.According to the Hague Agreement, the same result can be achieved by submitting a single international application, in one language, with payment of a set of fees, in one currency and in one office (the International Bureau). Moreover, the existence of a single international application with effect in several Contracting Parties greatly facilitates the subsequent management of protection. For example, a change in ownership, name or address of the holder can be entered in the International Register in one simple procedural step.

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