Locarno Agreement Establishing An International Classification For Industrial Designs

Since the Locarno nomenclature does not contain specific classification rules, the classification criteria vary from country to country, making it difficult for countries to assign different classifications to the same design. This problem has led to inefficiency in searching for earlier designs when users try to search for them with the Locarno classification. The Japan Patent Office (JPO) will endeavour to improve the usability of the International Classification of Industrial Designs (hereinafter referred to as the “Locarno Nomenclature”) by following the process of revising the classification system. The JPO has experience in developing the Japanese classification for industrial designs, which is highly valued by users as a tool for searching for earlier designs. Using this experience, the JPO will strive to be proactively involved in the debate on the efforts to subdivide the Locarno Classification, in order to successfully reflect the current situation of the Japanese design industry in the work of revising the Locarno Classification. The Locarno Agreement, concluded in Locarno in 1968 and amended in 1979, establishes a classification of industrial designs (Locarno classification). The Locarno classification consists of 32 classes and 219 subclasses, in which about 7,000 articles are classified. Compared to the Japanese classification of industrial designs, consisting of 13 groups, 77 main classes and 3,196 secondary classes, the scheme is less divided and offers a coarser range of classification. The Locarno Agreement is an agreement that establishes procedures for the introduction, amendment and creation of an international classification of industrial designs and entered into force in 1971.

Since September 2014, there have been 54 States Parties to the Agreement, including Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, China and the Republic of Korea, and the Agreement obliges States Parties to indicate the Locarno classification in official documents such as design bulletins published by the States Parties. Traditionally, Japanese companies have mainly participated in research in national design bulletins with the Japanese classification for industrial designs, and the inefficiency of the Locarno classification scheme has not really hindered their previous research. However, as product markets become more globalized, there is an increasing need for these companies to use the Locarno classification to browse the design bulletins of foreign IP offices, and many Japanese companies have requested a subdivision of the classifications.

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