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WIPO members fail to agree design law treaty timetable

WIPO’s hopes of arranging a diplomatic conference next year for a new deal on rules for industrial designs have been dashed after member states agreed to review the progress of work at the 2013 General Assemblies

Earlier this year WIPO’s secretariat from the Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications sought the views of owners and users of designs as part of a process it says will result in more streamlined, harmonised rules for filing applications for design rights around the world.

In May, Marcus Höpperger, director of the Trademark and Design Law Division at the IP organization, told Managing IP he hoped member states will conclude a design law treaty that does for designs what the Singapore Treaty did for trademarks and the Patent Law Treaty did for patents: simplify application procedures and harmonize registration formalities.

It proposes to standardise the rules national offices impose on the way that applicants must represent their design; filing date requirements; the length of the universal grace period that they offer; multiple design applications and the division of applications – among others.

But some member states want WIPO staff and the Organization’s chief economist to study how the draft articles and draft Rules on Industrial Design Law and Practice will affect developing countries.

The Committee agreed to ask the secretariat to carry out an analytical study.

WIPO says that at last week’s General Assembly in Geneva, member states emphasised the need to provide technical assistance to developing and least developed countries to implement any changes to design laws as a result of a treaty. Member states urged the Standing Committee on Trademarks to expedite its work.

The 2013 General Assembly will consider the progress made during the coming year and decide whether to convene a diplomatic conference to adopt a design law treaty.

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