On 25 September 2018, the World Intellectual Property Organisation reported that Malawi deposited its instrument of accession to the Madrid Protocol. This makes Malawi the 102nd member of the Madrid System.

The Madrid System enables trade mark proprietors in Malawi to file a single international application for trade mark protection in up to 117 territories. The Madrid Protocol is set to come into force in Malawi on 25 December 2018.

Malawi’s current trade mark legislation does not provide for the registration of trade marks in terms of the Madrid Protocol. However, on 2 February 2018, Malawi’s President assented to Trade Marks Act no. 2 of 2018 (“the New Act”). The New Act makes provision for the registration of trade marks in Malawi in terms of the Madrid Protocol. However, the New Act has yet to come into law and will come into operation on a date appointed by the Minister by notice published in the Gazette.

Given the current challenges at Registry, particularly the lack of fully digitised records, we strongly recommend seeking national TM protection, until such time as the Malawian Trade Marks Office is fully automated and Madrid designations are being processed in conformity with the relevant regulations.