11 June 2013

On-line Design applications

Following last week's announcement from WIPO on their improved on-line filing facility for Hague International Design applications, this week I will look at the on-line filing abilities of some other Offices.

OHIM provides a platform for filing Registered Community Design applications on-line. This is well used and the ease of uploading representations makes the applications significantly easier.

Compare this to the United Kingdom where paper forms are still required and it can be a bit fiddly collating all the representations into order. The same is the case in Germany, Benelux and Portugal, as examples.

OHIM's Cooperation Fund should help all countries within the EU introduce on-line facilities for filing design applications in the future. Among its initiatives, many national trade mark applications in EU member states can be filed on-line. These are scheduled to be extended to design applications in due course.

Outside the European Union, Switzerland has not yet developed an on-line process although it does accept applications via e-mail. However, Switzerland can be included within a Hague application.

Further afield, Canada and Australia offer on-line tools for which they should be commended.

It is understandable that systems for on-line design applications need to be robust in order to cope with a large number of representations as attachments. This makes them less easy to implement.

In the UK at least, most national designs are filed by local, often individual, designers directly (bigger firms and those professionally represented tend to take the European or International route). Their voice is perhaps less heard than professional IP organisations. This factor may also contribute towards why the UK IPO may not have considered it a priority to implement an on-line filing system for designs. As the UK looks to revamp its design legislation, the practical improvement of developing an on-line tool may also be carried out ahead of any support from OHIM's Cooperation Fund..