Prepared by William T. Fryer, III
March 30, 2003

Summary:  The Geneva Act is like a new ship in dry dock, awaiting the rush of water to start its movement to the sea.  The question is what countries will be on board, providing their international  businesses a more effective way to protection industrial designs.  The key steps to implementing the Geneva Act, and giving it a successful start for the global coverage, are a large number of the non-EU countries that have the largest design registration filings ratifying the treaty (Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, and the U. S), and a large number of smaller industrial design registration users in emerging nations joining also.

This report will summarize the global situation now on implementation of the Geneva Act on the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs (Geneva Act).  This treaty will replace in importance the current Hague Agreement Concerning the International Deposit of Industrial Designs which has 30 members (U. S. is not a member), as of February 26, 2003.   Whether attorneys will benefit in the near future from this global implementation of a new treaty will depend on the immediate effectiveness of design owners and attorneys to get their governments aboard the Geneva Act ship.  It will sail on its maiden voyage soon.

  The Geneva Act will provide a centralized filing system for design patents, similar in general result to PCT for utility patents and the Madrid Protocol for trademarks.  One application, in English for all member countries and only the use of Swiss currency are some of the major advantages of the Geneva Act.  The treaty will be administered by WIPO.   Treaty membership will provide a forum for countries to improve global procedures and protection of designs.  More details on the Geneva Act, its history and contents, can be found on this web site and on the WIPO web site under the topic Hague Agreement System.


 As of February 17, 2003, eight countries (Estonia, Iceland, Kyrgyz Republic, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Slovenia, Switzerland, and Ukraine) have ratified or acceded to the Geneva Act.  This group is sufficient to meet the Geneva Act requirement for a minimum of six members, but it is not sufficient to bring the treaty into force.  Three of the member countries must have one of two features:  minimum of 3,000 design patent applications, or equivalent design registrations  (total of resident and non-resident filings), filed in the most current, reported year, or at least 1,000 design patent applications filed by non-residents.
 Since designations under the Hague Agreement are counted in the statistics,  it is reported that Switzerland and Slovenia meet the thresholds.  The Geneva Act is now waiting for the third country to ratify or accede for the treaty to become operational.  It  is reported that necessary ratification or accession may be received in the summer of 2003. There is not much time for the U. S. to get on board.
 A review of  countries that expressed interest in the Geneva Act by signing it at the diplomatic Conference in July 1999, using the 2000 WIPO Statistics Report on direct national filings, showed that only twelve of these countries, or multi-country systems,  had enough direct national filings to meet either of the aforementioned start up requirements (Australia, Austria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Republic of Korea, Spain, UK and the U.S., plus the Benelux regional system).  Statistics for Italy and Greece were not listed in this record, but it is reported  they met the threshold filing requirements, bring the total to 13 countries and one regional system.  Five of these countries and the regional system involve European Union (EU) members, which are busy with implementing the new Community Design Regulation.  It is likely that one of these EU countries will ratify the Geneva Act in the summer of 2003 and the treaty will become operational shortly thereafter.
 Looking at all countries with WIPO 2000 statistics on direct national filings, there were 12 countries, and one regional group that met one of the member requirements for starting the treaty operation (Australia, Austria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, UK and the U. S, and the Benelux regional group).  With Greece and Italy addressed on reported qualification, there were 14 countries and the Benelux group.  It is important that these countries become members of the Geneva Act, to give it the coverage and activity that will make the treaty successful.
   It is important for the attorney organizations, designer groups, and businesses that utilize design as a product enhancement to express the urgency to their governments for completing ratification of the Geneva Act.  Updates on ratification  progress may be available on this web site, and WIPO will provide official announcements on its web site (


This page was last updated on March 30. 2003.

Conditions of Use