In what they consider "a major development for the International Design System," the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has announced that China has joined their Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs.
Under the Hague System, applicants (theoretically) gain design protection in over 90 countries through the filing of just one application for their design. (Outside of the system, you'd have to file by individual country or region.)
What this means for China:
"All designers in China will be able to use the International Design System to protect and promote their designs overseas, saving time and money."
What this means for designers who worry about design piracy from Chinese sources:
"Foreign designers will have easier access to the Chinese market, using one application and one set of fees to file for protection in 94 countries including China when its accession comes into force on May 5, 2022."
In the announcement WIPO Director General Daren Tang, a Singaporean citizen of Chinese descent, said:
"From the earliest ornamental products made by our Stone Age ancestors to the modern day haute couture we see on runways across the globe, designers enrich, excite and enliven us. Designers are also playing a bigger role in shaping the look and feel of the products we use every day – from household products and mobile phones to virtual designs. 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."
I don't mean to sound cynical, but I'm curious to see how this all shakes out.