GENEVA, Feb 6 — China has joined the World Intellectual Property Organization’s treaty on protecting industrial designs, which should help Chinese designers safeguard their work internationally, the UN agency said yesterday.

Beijing has entered WIPO’s Hague System for the international registration of industrial designs — as well as the Marrakesh Treaty, making books for the visually impaired more accessible.

WIPO director general Daren Tang received China’s accession documents whilst in Beijing to attend the Winter Olympics opening ceremony, the Geneva-based agency said in a statement.

WIPO said Chinese residents filed 795,504 designs in 2020, representing 55 per cent of the worldwide total.

“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,” Tang said.

The Hague System eliminates the need to file and pay for separate design protection applications in each member country. It will apply to China when its accession comes into force on May 5.

Some larger Chinese enterprises with plants in countries that are already members, like electronics firm Xiaomi and computer giant Lenovo, have already been adhering to the system, WIPO said.

The agency said industrial designs constitute the “ornamental aspect” of an article.

That may consist of three-dimensional features, such as the shape of an article, or two dimensional features, such as patterns, lines or colour, it said.

“More recently, graphical user interfaces or objects for the virtual world are becoming popular forms of designs,” said WIPO.

“Design registrations in respect of health and personal safety items have also risen lately, showing the relevance of design innovation as part of the worldwide efforts to curb the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Meanwhile China’s accession to the Marrakesh Treaty will also come into force on May 5.

The treaty makes the production and international transfer of specially-adapted books for people with blindness or visual impairments easier, via limitations and exceptions to traditional copyright law.

“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,” said Tang.

WIPO will work to add a strong collection of books in Chinese to its current offering of 730,000 books in 80 languages, he said. — AFP