China Joins Two Key WIPO Treaties, Effective 5 May 2022

China has recently joined two important treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), namely, the Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs (the Hague System) and the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled (the Marrakesh Treaty), which, as noted by WIPO director-general Mr. Daren Tang, mark an important development for the global IP ecosystem. Both accessions will take effect on 5 May 2022.
The Hague System is a fast track to international design protection in multiple jurisdictions, allowing an applicant to register an industrial design in multiple countries through one application to the WIPO. Designs eligible for protection consist of three-dimensional features, such as the shape of an article, or two dimensional features, such as patterns, lines or colour. Recent popular forms of designs include design registrations in respect of health and personal safety items, showing the relevance of design innovation in curbing the Covid-19 pandemic.
"China’s accession to the Hague System means that the design community in China will find it easier to protect and bring their designs out of China, and overseas designers will find it easier to move their designs into one of the world's largest and most-dynamic markets," Mr. Tang further said. Chinese residents, according to WIPO, filed 795,504 designs in 2020, representing 55 per cent of the worldwide total.
The Marrakesh Treaty, adopted by the WIPO in 2013, establishes a set of limitations and exceptions to traditional copyright law for the benefit of the blind, visually impaired, and print-disabled, making it easier for the visually impaired to access copyrighted works adapted in formats that they can use.
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 will work to add a substantial collection of books in Chinese to its current offering of 730,000 books in 80 languages.