Vietnam joins the Hague System

Under the main commitments of Vietnam related to Intellectual Property when signing the Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), Vietnam commits to join The Hague pact on industrial designs within 2 years of the EVFTA Agreement’s entry into force and will protect industrial designs for at least 15 years.

To fulfill this commitment, at 8:00 (Swiss time) on September 30, 2019 (October 1, Vietnam time), at the headquarters of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), on behalf of the Vietnamese Government, the Minister of Science and Technology (MOST), Mr Chu Ngoc Anh presented the instrument of accession to the Hague Agreement on the International Registration of Industrial Designs (Geneva Act 1999) to General Director of WIPO Francis Gurry. The Agreement will officially come into force for Vietnam in 03 months from the date of submission of the instrument.

The Hague Agreement on the International Registration of Industrial Designs is a special international treaty concluded under the Paris Convention on November 6, 1925 in Hague (Netherlands). This Agreement has been in force since June 1, 1928 and has been amended and supplemented several times. There are 03 main Acts that were signed at the respective locations:

  • The London Act signed on June 2, 1934 (referred to as the 1934 Act);
  • La-Hay Act signed on November 28, 1960 (referred to as 1960 Act);
  • Geneva Act signed on July 2, 1999 (referred to as the 1999 Act);
    These 03 Acts are completely independent from each other. In other words, each Act itself contains a full international agreement. Therefore, the international registration of industrial designs may be made in accordance with 1934 Act or 1960 Act or 1999 Act or simultaneously multi-documents.

Currently, the Hague System has the participation of 73 members, covering 90 countries including developed countries such as the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan and South Korea. ASEAN countries themselves have now pledged to join the Hague Agreement in order to simplify procedures for establishing rights to Industrial Designs for applicants in the region, thereby improving the competitiveness of Asean economy in the world.

Based on the assessment of the progress and completion of the 1999 Act compared to the other Acts, Viet Nam decided to ratify the Hague Agreement under the 1999 Act. The 1999 Act will enter into force in Vietnam since December 30, 2019. With the participation into the Geneva Act 1999, Vietnam will only have the rights and obligations with this Act and not be affected by the other Acts. In addition, Vietnam has the right to participate in discussions and vote on issues of the Hague Union or general provisions for the instruments of the Agreement.

Up to now, Vietnamese businesses and individuals who want to protect their industrial designs abroad have only one way of applying directly to the IP Office of each country separately. This means that different applications must be made in the language and requirements of the host countries, and incur a lot of costs, especially for attorneys in each country to protect the industrial design. Foreign businesses and individuals also encounter similar difficulties when they want to protect their industrial designs in Vietnam because the only way is to file registration application directly at the NOIP and must go through a registered industrial property representative in Vietnam.

With joining to the Hague agreement, as from January 1, 2020, Vietnamese designers and organizations may apply for protection of their industrial designs abroad by designating countries which are members of the 1999 Act of the Hague Agreement. This also means that an industrial design of Vietnamese designers can be protected in 90 countries through only having to submit a single application. Similarly, foreign designers and companies can also seek protection of industrial designs in Vietnam through the Hague System with the only single filing procedure.

Along with being a member of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the International Trademark Registration System (Madrid System), the Berne Convention on the protection of literary and artistic works, etc. The Hague Agreement has further improved Vietnam’s international integration in relation to Intellectual Property objects. This accession is very significant in the current international integration period of Vietnam, bringing many benefits to the designer/organizations of Vietnam as well as abroad.