Since the beginning of 2008, it has been possible for the European Community to be designated under the Hague system of international registration of industrial designs. This system allows the owner of an industrial design to get design protection in the territories of the Contracting Parties (currently 25) by filing a single application with the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), based in Geneva, Switzerland. Applications from eligible parties must be filed directly to WIPO in English or French and payment is in Swiss Francs.
OHIM (the European Office) is not a receiving office for international registrations under this system. OHIM only becomes involved after publication of international registrations by WIPO, when it examines the grounds for refusal. This examination must take place within six months of publication, and where OHIM finds a ground for refusal it communicates this to WIPO, thereby preventing the international registration from having effect in the territory of the EC. WIPO forwards the notification of refusal to the holder of the international application who may respond to it by submitting observations directly to OHIM. If OHIM finds that the observations of the holder overcome the grounds for refusal, it will withdraw the refusal and notify WIPO accordingly.
From the date of its registration, provided no refusal has been notified or if any such refusal has been withdrawn, an international registration designating the EC has the same effect as an application for a registered Community design.
In order to revoke or cancel the effects of an international registration in the territory of the EC, third parties may institute proceedings for declaration of invalidity according to the same rules as for a declaration of invalidity of a registered Community design, i.e. third parties may either submit an application for a declaration of invalidity to OHIM or institute a counterclaim for invalidity before a Community design court.