Mon 7th May 2018

A review of design protection under the Hague System in 2017

Last year saw yet another period of growth for the Hague System as the international registration body for the protection of industrial designs.

According to European Design Attorney Ian Whitfield, ‘A greater number of designs were filed in 2017, and it seems that an increasing number of companies are choosing to register their designs through the system.’


19,429 designs were filed in Hague System applications in 2017, an increase of 3.8% from 2016. These designs were filed in 5,213 Hague System applications, a slight decrease from 2016. Although these figures are slightly underwhelming, they follow on the back of massive increases in 2016 in both the number of Hague System applications filed and the number of designs contained within the applications.


This is the eleventh consecutive year of growth in the number of designs contained in Hague System applications. The growth in the number of designs included in applications has been attributed to further recognition of the expansion of the Hague System to include Japan, South Korea and the USA, and an increase in the general awareness of the system.


Applicants from Germany (4,261 designs) were, as usual in recent years, by far the largest users of the Hague System in 2017, followed by Switzerland (2,935), South Korea (1,742), the USA (1,661) and France (1,396).


Hague System applications cover a wide variety of industries. In 2017, once again, designs relating to furnishing (10.5%) had the largest share of the total designs. This was followed by recording and communication equipment (10.3%), means of transport (7.6%), lighting apparatus (6.9%) and clocks and watches (6.9%).


The number of designs contained in lighting apparatus applications increased massively from 834 to 1,345, overtaking clocks and watches. This increase was largely caused by the company I. Paleohorinos Fotistika Abee of Greece, which filed 357 designs in 2017 after having filed only 8 designs in 2016. This put the Greek company in 6th place in terms of the total number of designs filed. Another new entrant into the top ten is the Belgian company Drylock Technologies BV, filing 315 designs in 2017 after having filed just 57 designs in 2016. Drylock Technolgies BV also caused the number of designs filed by Belgian companies in 2017 to swell by a massive 189.2% from 2016.


The biggest decrease in the number of designs filed by a company in 2017 was by 3rd place Fonkel Meubelmarketing of the Netherlands, dropping from 953 designs in 2017 to 490 in 2017. This also contributed to a fall of 38.7% in the number of designs filed by companies from the Netherlands. Fonkel Meubelmarketing were in 1st place in 2016.


Microsoft dropped out of the top ten in 2017, to 15th place, filing 144 designs in 2017 compared to 256 designs in 2016. Despite this, the number of designs filed by US companies still increased by 17.8%, partly due to a large increase in the number of designs filed by the Gillette Company, from 39 in 2016 to 170 in 2017, moving them up to 13th place.


It’s interesting to see that many companies are now converting to using the Hague System, with the likes of Italian lighting company Flos (18th), French household good manufacturer Arc Holdings (33rd), German shoe manufacturer Birkenstock (36th), Czech automobile manufacturer Skoda Auto (37th) and Spanish automobile manufacturer Seat (40th) moving into the top forty in 2017, from either 0 or a single digit number of designs filed in 2016.


Indeed, with the addition of Russia and the UK to the Hague System this year, the trend of uninterrupted growth is set to continue in 2018.


Click here to download a Guide to the Hague System for the protection of industrial designs.


For advice on protecting your designs in the UK, Europe and internationally, or on intellectual property protection in general, please contact Ian Whitfield on 44 (0) 207 831 7929 or email


This briefing is for general information purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. We can discuss specific issues and facts on an individual basis. Please note that the law may have changed since the day this was first published in May 2018.


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