Singapore to accede to Geneva Act
Singapore is due to accede to the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs during the first half of 2005, in line with the Registered Designs (Amendment) Act 2004, which came into force on January 1 2005. This will allow Singapore to meet its obligations under the European Free Trade Association-Singapore Free Trade Agreement.
The Hague Agreement is an international design registration system that allows protection for industrial designs in countries that are party to the agreement. The agreement allows applicants to file a single design application with the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to cover several countries.
A country may participate in the Hague system through accession to any of the following:
- the London Act;
- the Hague Act; and/or
- the Geneva Act.
The Geneva Act, which came into force only in December 2003, was introduced to facilitate the accession of new states and serves as a bridge between the international registration system and national systems. Singapore's impending accession will bring the total number of contracting parties to the Hague Agreement to 41 and the number acceding to the Geneva Act to 17.
To be entitled to file an international design application under the Geneva Act, an applicant must meet one of the following criteria:
- be a national of a contracting country;
- be domiciled in a contracting country;
- have its habitual residence in a contracting country; or
- have a real and effective industrial or commercial establishment in a contracting country.
A prior national application is not required. A design may therefore be applied for and registered for the first time through the international design system.
Singapore is, at present, the only country in Asia due to accede to the Geneva Act. This means that foreign (particularly Asian) businesses that meet one of the entitling criteria outlined above can seek to protect their design rights internationally by going through a Singapore agent or representative. The Hague system also simplifies the way that the industrial design right is subsequently managed, because recordals of amendments or renewals will be possible through a simple, single procedural step with WIPO's International Bureau.
Kevin Wong, Ella Cheong Spruson & Ferguson (Singapore) Pte Ltd, Singapore
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