Design rights on the Dutch coast

Walking through the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI), you could be forgiven for thinking you’re on a short trip around Europe. The meeting rooms are named after cities, such as Paris, Geneva and Rome. But there’s more to the names of these gathering spots than just destinations for upcoming holidays. One particular city on the coast of the Netherlands is the place for design filings. The Hague plays an important role in international design protection law thanks to a special agreement.

Ferris wheel on the beach of Scheveningen in The Hague.
The Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs was adopted in The Hague, the Netherlands, in 1925. (Photo: iStock / fotolupa)

Situated on the North Sea coast in the west of the Netherlands, The Hague is a lively centre of business and commerce. In addition to being the seat of the Dutch government and numerous other international institutions, it is also home to the second most important location of the European Patent Office (EPO), which we wrote about in a previous blog post. According to the EPO, around 2,500 people currently work at the office in The Hague.


The Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs was adopted in 1925. It is the design equivalent of the Madrid Agreement, which governs the international registration of trade marks (see the blog post Madrid makes its mark). The agreement forms the basis of the Hague System, the international design system. Thanks to this system, up to 100 designs can be filed in 96 countries via a single international application – provided the objects fall within the international classification for industrial designs (Locarno Classification). Applications are generally filed with the administrator of the Hague Agreement, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). In 2022, the WIPO database contained 634 registrations from Switzerland relating to the Hague Agreement. Further information about the various acts of the agreement and their applicability can be found on the official WIPO website.


It’s therefore fitting that the third largest city in the Netherlands has a meeting room named after it at the IPI. The Hague is a city of intellectual property, just like Paris, Geneva, Madrid, Locarno, Nice, Rome and Munich. Thanks to their agreements and administrative offices, these cities all contribute to the international harmonisation of intellectual property law.



More information:
► WIPO’s Guide to the Hague System takes you through the various steps involved in the international registration of designs.
► Original Hague Agreement of 1925 in French

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