WIPO A New Act for the Protection of Industrial Drawings and Designs

Article excerpt

Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations Office at Geneva and President of the 1999 Diplomatic Conference [*]

A work of the mind, an artistic creation is not only expressed in works of art. It also applies to industrial design, which makes utilitarian objects attractive to consumers. This type of creation is a product not only of significant intellectual effort, conception and research, but also of human and material investment.

The most efficient way to encourage creativity is to recognize the designer's exclusive right to its exploitation. A traditional means of protecting creativity is "drawing and design"--an industrial property title that enables the holder to prevent a third party from manufacturing or exploiting the protected design or form without his or her authorization. The designer can also derive a financial benefit by selling it or granting third parties a manufacturing licence.

Designers need access to a title that is uncomplicated, easy to obtain, inexpensive and, above all, efficient. This is even true for those who are involved in creating short-lived products. If the time necessary to obtain the tide is longer than the market life of the product, any attempt to get protection could seem futile.

This situation was already obvious a century ago when the first elements of an international system for industrial property were being set up. Today, globalization and the appearance of new communication technologies such as the Internet make it even more urgent for designers to protect themselves, both in the country where the product originates, and at regional (i.e. bordering countries) and international levels. Any company wishing to place the catalogue of its new creations on an Internet site, in order to reach the broadest clientele possible and to show its innovative capacities, needs a legal instrument adapted to these new needs.

The current approach consists of appealing to the relevant authorities in each country where one wishes to obtain protection for the design or model, but it has become too cumbersome and expensive. The international community has therefore conceived new tools to facilitate designers' access to the protection of industrial property. Regarding drawings and designs, instruments at the regional (the future community design and model that will apply to the 15 States of the European Community, for instance) and international levels are progressively being put in place.

At the multilateral level, one tool is "The Hague Agreement concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs"--an agreement governed by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). …