Thursday, April 18 2024   \  Published by PatentlyO.

The Design Law Treaty and the Struggle for International Harmonization of Industrial Design Protection

The Design Law Treaty and the Struggle for International Harmonization of Industrial Design Protection

The international IP community is moving toward further harmonizing legal protection for industrial designs. For almost twenty years, member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) have been negotiating a Design Law Treaty (DLT) that would streamline and align procedural requirements for obtaining registered design rights across jurisdictions. If successful, the DLT would make it “significantly easier for small and medium-sized enterprises to obtain industrial design protection overseas as a result of simplified, streamlined and aligned procedures and requirements.”[1] The DLT can be seen as parallel to the Patent Law Treaty (PLT) adopted in 2000 that helped to harmonize and standardize the formal patent procedures such as the filing requirements sufficient for obtaining a filing date.

Throughout this time, it has been difficult to implement almost any global IP treaty because of major north-south divides. For the DLT, negotiations have been stalled for the past several years over an African Group proposal that would permit countries to require design applicants to disclose the origin of traditional knowledge, cultural expressions and genetic resources used in creating protectable designs.[2] This same issue has arisen in other IP treaty negotiations over the past few decades.[3] A diplomatic conference is now scheduled for late 2024 to finalize the treaty, but it remains to be seen whether WIPO members be able to reach a consensus. The USPTO is currently soliciting public input to help formulate the U.S. negotiating position. Read more

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