On 3 October 2019 Israel became the 63rd country to join the Hague Agreement for the Registration of Industrial Designs. From 3 January 2020, Israeli citizens and residents who are engaged in commercial activity in this jurisdiction will be able protect industrial designs by submitting a single international design application for any of the 88 member countries. Joining the Hague System was made possible only after the complete reform of the Israeli Design Law, which came into effect in 2018.
The new regime introduced significant changes to design protection. One of the biggest modifications was the option to file international design applications via the Hague System. Similar to the Madrid Protocol for trademarks and the Patent Cooperation Treaty for patents, the Hague System makes the process of obtaining international protection easier and less costly for Israeli designers who wish to protect their designs in member states and for foreign designers from member states who wish to protect their designs in Israel.
The system allows for the international registration of up to 100 designs in all contracting parties through the filing one single international application with WIPO’s International Bureau. This is considerably more cost and time-effective compared to filing individual national applications. Later proceedings following registration (eg, renewals, assignments or any change to the registration record) are also handled directly by WIPO, which is also much more cost and time-effective than handling each national registration separately.
Filing design applications via the Hague System is also worry-free in the sense that each national design application filed under it is totally independent from other applications. Unlike the Madrid Protocol, the Hague System does not rely on one application from the applicant’s country of origin. For example, if an application is rejected in member state A, this will have no effect on other national applications. Applicants can also change the national application after filing and choose to omit designs or change classes with no effect on other national applications.
The design reform has made other significant amendments to design protection in Israel, first and foremost by extending the term of protection for a total of 25 years, subject to periodic renewal fees. This is a major change – the term of protection under the old law was 15 years only. Further, the new law provides limited protection for unregistered designs. This is available for products that are for sale or commercially distributed in Israel (including through the Internet). The non-renewable term of unregistered designs is three years after publication, similar to the protection granted to unregistered designs under the European law.
Overall, the ratification of the Hague System will have a significant effect on Israel. The high-tech community and the large number of international tech giants operating R&D centres in Israel will undoubtedly benefit from this cost-effective registration process.