The Madrid Protocol Concerning the International Registration of Trademarks (the “Protocol”) provides a simple, unified, cost-effective means for citizens of member countries (including the United States) to register their marks in other member countries. By using the Protocol, trademark owners can obtain a single “International Registration” designating some or all of the member countries, instead of filing separate national applications in each country. If none of the member countries objects to the International Registration, the trademark owners will not have to hire attorneys in each country to assist them with the registration process. This typically results in significant cost-savings. Moreover, an International Registration can be maintained, renewed and assigned through a single filing with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), resulting in further cost-savings throughout the life of the Registration.
A complete list of the Protocol members may be found here. At present, there are 89 members, including the US, the European Union, China and Japan. Last year, Mexico, New Zealand and the Philippines joined. This year, India will join, its membership taking effect on July 8, 2013, bringing the total number of Protocol members to 90.
The accession of India is particularly gratifying, since India’s national trademark office is notoriously overburdened and slow-moving. Under the Protocol, however, a country is typically required to examine a registration request within 12-18 months. If the country does not raise any objections within this period, the mark is deemed registered in its territory. In other words, the Protocol provides an incentive for timely examination, and creates a situation in which national inertia is on the side of the applicant.
The Protocol continues to expand its membership. In 2015, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand are scheduled to join. It is also expected that Canada will ultimately join, although its accession has not yet been scheduled for a specific date. Keep reviewing this blog for further updates and information.