Industrial designers are set to obtain greater assurance in protecting their designs in Singapore when the Locarno Agreement enters into force on 19 March 2020. With this, Singapore becomes the first in the ASEAN bloc to join the Locarno Agreement, and the island nation is now signatory to 15 World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) treaties, signifying their commitment to support global innovation flows through the active harmonisation of internal intellectual property (IP) policies and legislations against international standards.
The Locarno Agreement is an international standardised classification system for industrial designs – a multilateral treaty administered by WIPO. Also known as the Locarno Classification, it simplifies the search process across different industrial designs databases and helps applicants identify the specific class their work belongs to when they file for industrial designs protection.
With the accession to the Locarno Agreement, Singapore joins other industrial designs powerhouses such as Japan, Germany and Italy as a contracting party to the WIPO administered treaty. As a member of the treaty, Singapore will have a seat at the appropriate WIPO platforms to influence the development of the Locarno Classification for the interests of the design community in Singapore.
According to the World Intellectual Property Indicators 2019 report, global industrial designs applications doubled between 2007 and 2018 to reach 1.02 million in 2018. This is consistent with the industrial designs filing trends in ASEAN, which grew by almost 15% between 2011 to 2017. In 2019 alone, Singapore saw a 16% year-on-year increase in applications for international designs registrations.