With the first Madrid Protocol applications designating Lao PDR entering from 7 March 2016, brand owners are now able to designate five out of ten ASEAN nations using the international trade marks filings system. With many of the political forces in the remaining ASEAN nations focused on various domestic issues or aligned with the status quo, it appears there could be limited developments in the immediate future in this region.

Lao PDR becomes the 97th member of the Madrid Protocol which celebrated 125 years since its introduction on 14 April this year. 2015 also saw the ascension of the Gambia, Algeria and Cambodia. The Madrid Protocol now covers a total of 113 territories.

Whilst there has been much progress over the past few years, there still remain some major economies which are not members, including Canada and Brazil.

Canada is awaiting entry into force of provisions required to comply with the Madrid Protocol standard. It is estimated that the Canadian Trademarks Office will not begin accepting Madrid applications before spring 2018. While some voluntary and limited classification is now possible, this and other procedural aspects of Madrid Protocol adoption will have to be crafted and refined before the Madrid system may be used by trade mark owners to secure Canadian rights.

Whilst the Brazilian Government announced in 2013 its intention to introduce legislation that would allow for the Brazilian Congress to consider the introduction of the Madrid Protocol, there have been few developments since. The recent political turmoil is unlikely to assist with the smooth passage of legislation.

One recent development that may promote the accelerated expansion of the Madrid Protocol was the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty (TPP) on 4 February 2016. The TPP IP chapter includes provision that each party must accede to a number of IP-related treaties, including the Madrid Protocol. Signatories to the TPP not currently Madrid Protocol members are Canada, Chile, Peru, Malaysia and Brunei. However, with both USA front-running presidential candidates voicing their opposition to the TPP, its final ratification or entry into force is far from certain.