The Hague System
Protection for designs is territorial in nature. You have to obtain protection separately in each of the countries outside Singapore where you want your design protected. You would have to file individual applications in each of those countries or alternatively, you could file an application via the Hague System. The Hague System is an international registration system that is administered by the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Switzerland. Singapore is a member of the Hague Union and has acceded the 1999 Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement.
Click here for a list of countries which are members of the Hague Union.
Under the Hague System, a single international application replaces a whole series of applications that you would have to make in individual national offices. This means that you will have the convenience of having your design protected in several countries simultaneously by filing one application with the International Bureau of WIPO, in one language, and by paying one set of fees in one currency (Swiss francs).
The Application Process
This flowchart shows the process flow of an International Application under the Hague System.
(Please mouseover for more information)
1. File an international Application Form DM/1
You may file an international application using Form DM/1. It can be filed:
1a. Directly with the International Bureau of WIPO
The applicant also has the option of filing electronically through the interface (E-filing) available on the WIPO web site (www.wipo.int/hague/en). The date of filing at WIPO will be the date WIPO receives the form; or
1b. Indirectly through IPOS in Singapore
IPOS will charge a transmittal fee of SGD150 to send the documents to the International Bureau of the WIPO. The date of filing of the application will be the date on which IPOS receives the international application with the requisite fees; provided that the application is received by the International Bureau of WIPO within one month from this date.
WIPO has a tiered fee system allowing designations of more than one country from the list of member countries. An automatic fee calculator found on the WIPO website can be used to calculate the final fees based on the number of designs as well as the number of countries designated.
An application filed directly with the IB may be filed in French, Spanish or English. If however, you submit the international application indirectly through IPOS, all forms and communications submitted must be filed in the English language.
2. WIPO receives application and checks for formal requirements
3. Formal requirements met
WIPO will publish the relevant details and a reproduction of the design in the International Designs Bulletin, the electronic bulletin on WIPO’s website.
4. WIPO publishes design in Bulletin
Upon publication of the Bulletin, IPOS will identify the international registrations in which Singapore has been designated in order to examine them in accordance with the substantive requirements provided for under the Registered Designs Act Cap 266.
Any refusal of protection will be notified to the International Bureau within 6 months from the date of publication. If no refusal is notified within the six months limit, the international registration will automatically enjoy protection in Singapore. The protection would be granted for an initial period of 5 years and may be renewed using Form DM/5 for additional periods of 5 years up to a maximum of 15 years.
5. Formal requirements not met
WIPO will inform the applicant by letter of defects in the application.
6. Applicant makes correction
Applicant has 3 months to make the corrections directly to WIPO and if no corrections are made, the international application is considered abandoned.
The user guide can be obtained from the WIPO website.
The WIPO official forms are downloadable here.
Designating Singapore in an International Application
For international applications designating Singapore, please note the following:
A single international application may comprise several different designs, up to a maximum of 100 designs. All the designs must belong to the same class of the Locarno Classification for Industrial Designs. If an international application designates Singapore, the applicant should note that designs that are subject of the same application must conform to a requirement of unity of design, unity of production or unity of use, or belong to the same set or composition of items, or that only one independent and distinct design may be claimed in a single application.
If the international registration designating Singapore does not conform to the principle of “unity of design”, the applicant will be invited to divide his application to overcome the objection. The application to divide the international registration must be made within 3 months from the notification by IPOS. The divided applications will have the same filing date as that of the international registration.
Under the Geneva (1999) Act of the Hague Agreement, publication of an international registration may be deferred up to 30 months from the date of filing, or the priority date.
Singapore however, does not provide for deferment of publication. Hence, if an international application designates Singapore and the applicant wishes to proceed with the deferment, he may have to withdraw Singapore from the list of designated countries.