China deposited its instrument of accession to the Hague Agreement for the International Registration of Industrial Designs and instrument of ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) on February 5, 2022. Both treaties will enter into force in China on May 5.
"China has joined the Hauge Agreement, Marrakesh Treaty, which not only demonstrates commitments of China to fulfill obligations on international rules, but also benefits for China itself. China is willing to further deepen cooperation with WIPO in areas such as innovation and development," said Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during a meeting with WIPO Director General Daren Tang in early February.
China joins the Hauge Agreement
The Hauge Agreement,an international IP norm for industrial design, is one of the three WIPO-administered service systems for industrial property along with the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks and the Patent Cooperation Treaty. The Hague System enables applicants to secure and manage international design protection simultaneously in multiple countries or regions through one application.
The earliest version of the Hague Agreement was passed on November 6, 1925. The latest version is the 1999 Act which was in force on April 1, 2004. As of January 24, 2022, there are 76 contracting parties to the Hague Agreement while the 1999 Act hosts 67 contracting parties, including 65 countries and 2 intergovernmental organizations.
"China's accession facilitates its integration into the global industrial design system, assists Created in China, Designed in China, Made in China to blossom on the world market and may advance the global design business. In the meantime, this will drive China's involvement into global IP norm setting under the WIPO framework into deeper territory," said China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) Commissioner Shen Changyu.
CNIPA has been keeping a close eye with the developments of the Hauge System and constantly assessing the feasibility of China's accession. By following a set of accession-oriented principles, namely Hague-compatible, user-friendly, minimum changes to the current practice, seamless link with international phase procedures, CNIPA reworked its examination criteria, filing/examination procedures, office actions, IT system specifications, had multiple rounds of discussion with WIPO's International Bureau on these examination matters, which provided solid support for the filing/examination of design international applications.
On June 1, 2021, the latest-revised patent law entered into force, extending protection term from 10 to 15 years, which removed a legislative difference blocking the accession. CNIPA then immediately launched the domestic authorization proceedings for the accession and would complete it with the concrete support from the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other agencies. With the greenlight from the State Council in January, China formally acceded to the 1999 Act.
CNIPA is currently lining up a slew of next steps to facilitate local/foreign applicants' use of the system and benefit international filing and protection of their designs.
Marrakesh Treaty to enter into force on May 5
While becoming a new member of the Hague family, China is now also a party to the Marrakesh Treaty, integrating one of the greatest cultural and literary traditions into the Marrakesh community.
China is home to the largest population in the world as well as the birth place of one of the greatest cultural and literary traditions. The accession to the Marrakesh Treaty means over 17 million persons in China who are blind and visually impaired will have better access to copyrighted works while promoting cross-border circulation of accessible works in Chinese and giving persons in other parts of the world who are blind and visually impaired access to these works.
"China has one of the world's oldest and richest continuing literary and cultural traditions. With China's entry into the Marrakesh Treaty, people who are blind or have other visual impairments will benefit from having greater access to this rich and continuing tradition," Daren Tang commented on China's entry. "And the blind and visually impaired community in China, which is estimated at over 17 million, will benefit more easily from accessible versions of foreign-produced texts. WIPO's Accessible Books Consortium (ABC), which works with NGOs to convert books into formats accessible by the visually impaired, will work with stakeholders to add a strong collection of books in Chinese to its current offering of 730,000 books in 80 languages."
China will provide practical support to print-disabled people per the treaty and continue to strengthen cooperation with the WIPO, China will also further participate in the global administration of intellectual property under the WIPO's frameworks, source from China National Copyright Administration said.