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Japan Patent OfficeThe International Registration System of Industrial Designs will be Available from Mid-May 2015

On February 13, 2015, the Government of Japan deposited an instrument of accession to the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs (hereinafter referred to as the “Geneva Act”) with the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

This deposition will enable applicants in Japan to utilize the international registration system under the Geneva Act on and after May 13, 2015, when the Geneva Act will come into force in Japan.

1. Outline of the Geneva Act

The Geneva Act is an international treaty aiming to simplify applicants’ registration procedures for industrial designs in multiple countries and to reduce their costs for such procedures. Under the Geneva Act, by filing a single international application, an applicant can achieve the effect of simultaneous filing in multiple contracting parties that he/she designates. Furthermore, the design rights that were granted in multiple countries through this system will be able to be managed in an integrated manner. The Geneva Act was adopted in 1999 and entered into force in 2003.

As of February 2015, 47 countries and intergovernmental organizations, including EU and the ROK, have become members of the Geneva Act, and in May 2015, applicants in Japan and other contracting parties will be able to utilize the international registration system under the Geneva Act to protect their industrial designs.

2. Background to the accession

As the number of Japanese companies developing their business overseas has been growing, it is a significant issue for Japan to prevent its products with outstanding designs from being counterfeited and to appropriately convey the information on such excellent products to other countries, thereby securing the global competitiveness of the Japanese industry. As one of the efforts to facilitate the approach, the Government of Japan decided to join the membership of the Geneva Act so as to provide Japanese companies with a good opportunity to acquire their design rights in multiple member countries through simple procedures at low cost. Before joining this system, applicants have to file an application to each country through different domestic procedures to register their industrial designs in multiple countries.

More and more countries are expected to join the membership of the Geneva Act in the near future, and this will make the international registration system more attractive and practical.

3. Future actions

Three months after the deposit of the instrument of accession, on May 13, 2015, the Geneva Act will come into force in Japan, and on the same day, the provisions for enforcing the Geneva Act under the Act to Partially Amend the Patent Act etc. (Act No. 36 of 2014) will also come into force.

The enforcement of the Geneva Act on May 13, 2015, will enable an applicant who is a national of or has domicile in Japan, or has business establishment in Japan to utilize the international registration system under the Geneva Act. Furthermore, from the same day, applicants of the other contracting parties of the Geneva Act will be able to file an international application designating Japan.

The JPO will endeavor to increase convenience for users through the efforts for disseminating the international registration system under the Geneva Act as well as supporting users’ utilization of the system, and the initiatives for increasing the number of member countries of the Geneva Act, so as to help Japanese companies to enjoy simpler application procedures at lower cost with secured protection of their design rights in multiple countries.


For helping users to learn about the Geneva Act and to utilize its system effectively, the JPO has been holding explanatory meetings across Japan concerning the international registration system of industrial designs.

For the schedule of the above meetings in FY2014, visit the following website: Site Link (in Japanese)

Release date

February 16, 2015

Divisions in charge

  • Design Division, Patent and Design Examination Department (Physics, Optics, Social Infrastructure and Design), JPO
  • Legislative Affairs Office, Policy Planning and Coordination Division, Policy Planning and Coordination Department, JPO
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
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