The Madrid system for the international registration of marks, also conveniently known as the Madrid System, is the primary international system for facilitating the registration of trademarks in multiple jurisdictions around the world.
The Madrid system provides a centrally administered system of obtaining a bundle of trademark registrations in separate jurisdictions. Registration through the Madrid system does not create an 'international' registration, as in the case of the European CTM system, rather it creates a bundle of national rights, able to be administered centrally. Madrid provides a mechanism for obtaining trademark protection in many countries around the world, which is more effective than seeking protection separately in each individual country or jurisdiction of interest.
Who May Apply?
For example, under the Protocol it is possible to obtain an international registration based on a pending trade mark application, so that a trade mark owner can effectively apply for international registration concurrently with or immediately after filing an application in a member jurisdiction. By comparison, the Agreement requires that the trade mark owner already holds an existing registration in a member jurisdiction, which may often take many months and sometimes years to obtain in the first place. In addition, the Agreement does not provide the option to ‘convert’ international registrations which have been ‘centrally attacked’.
The Madrid system provides a mechanism whereby a trademark owner who has an existing trademark application or registration (known as the 'basic application' or 'basic registration') in a member jurisdiction may obtain an ‘international registration’ for their trademark from the World Intellectual Property Organization. The trademark owner may then extend the protection afforded to the international registration to one or more member jurisdictions, a process known as ‘designation’. A useful feature of the Madrid system is that this protection may generally be extended to additional jurisdictions at any time, such that international trade mark protection can be extended to new jurisdictions which subsequently join Madrid, or to such other jurisdictions as the trade mark owner may choose.
What Can Be Registered?
In basic terms, the primary advantage of the Madrid system is that it allows a trademark owner to obtain trademark protection in any or all member states by filing one application in one jurisdiction with one set of fees, and make any changes (eg. changes of name or address) and renew registration across all applicable jurisdictions through a single administrative process.
One disadvantage of the Madrid system is that any refusal, withdrawal or cancellation of the basic application or basic registration within five years of the registration date of the international registration will lead to the refusal, withdrawal or cancellation of the international registration to the same extent. For example, if a basic application covers 'clothing, headgear and footwear', and 'headgear' is then deleted from the basic application (for whatever reason), 'headgear' will also be deleted from the international application. Therefore, the protection afforded by the international registration in each designated member jurisdiction will only extend to 'clothing and footwear'. If the basic application is rejected as a whole, the international registration would also be totally refused.
What Cannot Be Registered?
The process of attacking the basic application or basic registration for this purpose is generally known as ‘central attack’. Under the Madrid Protocol, the effects of a successful central attack can be mitigated by transforming the international registration into a series of applications in each jurisdiction designated by the international registration, a process known as ‘transformation’. Although transformation is an expensive option of last resort, the resulting applications will receive the registration date of the international registration as their filing date.
Madrid now permits the filing, registration and maintenance of trade mark rights in more than one jurisdiction, provided that the target jurisdiction is a party to the system.(1) The Madrid system is administered by the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva, Switzerland. As of 8 December 2008, there will be 84 members comprising the Madrid Union of jurisdictions which have become party to the Agreement or the Protocol or both.
The primary reason why the Protocol — which has been in operation since 2004 and has 78 members — is more popular than the Agreement — which has been in operation for more than 110 years and has 56 members — is that the Protocol introduced a number of changes to the Madrid system which significantly enhanced its usefulness to trademark owners.
In 1997, less than half of a percent of international registrations were canceled as a result of central attack. The costs savings which usually result from using the Madrid system may be negated by the requirement to use local agents in the applicable jurisdiction if any problems arise. Two significant recent developments in international trade mark law were the accession of the United States and the European Union to the Madrid Protocol on 2 November 2003 and 1 October 2004, respectively. With the addition of these jurisdictions to the Protocol, most major trading jurisdictions have joined the Madrid system.
Evaluation & Review
1. The system of international registration of marks is governed by two treaties: the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks, which dates from 1891, and the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement, which was adopted in 1989, entered into force on December 1, 1995, and came into operation on April 1, 1996. Common Regulations under the Agreement and Protocol also came into force on that date. The system is administered by the International Bureau of WIPO, which maintains the International Register and publishes the WIPO Gazette of International Marks.
2. Any State which is a party to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property may become a party to the Agreement or the Protocol or both. In addition, an intergovernmental organization may become a party to the Protocol (but not the Agreement) where the following conditions are fulfilled: at least one of the Member States of the organization is a party to the Paris Convention and the organization maintains a regional office for the purposes of registering marks with effect in the territory of the organization.
3. States party to the Agreement and/or the Protocol and organizations party to the Protocol are referred to collectively as Contracting Parties. A list of the Contracting Parties is given on a separate sheet. Together, they constitute the Madrid Union, which is a Special Union under Article 19 of the Paris Convention.
4. Every member of the Madrid Union (list of members available in Adobe PDF and MS-Word formats) is a member of its Assembly. Among the most important tasks of the Assembly are the adoption of the program and budget of the Union and the adoption and modification of the implementing regulations, including the fixing of fees connected with the use of the Madrid system.
The objectives of the system are two-fold. Firstly, it facilitates the obtaining of protection for marks (trademarks and service marks). The registration of a mark in the International Register produces, in the Contracting Parties designated by the applicant, the effects described in paragraph 31, below. Further Contracting Parties may be designated subsequently. Secondly, since an international registration is equivalent to a bundle of national registrations, the subsequent management of that protection is made much easier. There is only one registration to renew, and changes such as a change in ownership or in the name or address of the holder, or a limitation of the list of goods and services, can be recorded in the International Register through a single simple procedural step. On the other hand, if it is desired to transfer the registration for only some of the designated Contracting Parties, or for only some of the goods or services, or to limit the list of goods and services with respect to only some of the designated Contracting Parties, the system is flexible enough to accommodate this.
An application for international registration (an “international application”) may be filed only by a natural person or a legal entity which has a real and effective industrial or commercial establishment in, or is domiciled in, or is a national of, a country which is party to the Madrid Agreement or the Madrid Protocol (list of members available in PDF and DOC), or who has such an establishment in, or is domiciled in, the territory of an intergovernmental organization which is a party to the Protocol, or is a national of a Member State of such an organization.
7. The Madrid system of international registration cannot be used by a person or legal entity which does not have the necessary connection, through establishment, domicile or nationality, with a member of the Madrid Union. Nor can it be used to protect a mark outside the Madrid Union.
There are therefore three kinds of international application:
* an international application governed exclusively by the Agreement; this means that all the designations are made under the Agreement;
* an international application governed exclusively by the Protocol; this means that all the designations are made under the Protocol;
* an international application governed by both the Agreement and the Protocol; this means that some of the designations are made under the Agreement and some under the Protocol.
International registration has several advantages for the owner of the mark. After registering the mark, or filing an application for registration, with the Office of origin, he has only to file one application, in one language, and pay one fee instead of filing separately in the trademark Offices of the various Contracting Parties in different languages and paying a separate fee in each Office. Moreover, the holder does not have to wait for the Office of each Contracting Party in which protection is sought to take a positive decision to register the mark; if no refusal is notified by an Office within the applicable time limit, the mark is protected in the Contracting Party concerned. In some cases, the holder does not even have to wait the expiry of this time limit in order to know that the mark is protected in a Contracting Party, since he may, before the expiry of the time limit, receive a statement of grant of protection from the Office of that Contracting Party.
48. A further important advantage is that changes subsequent to registration, such as a change in the name or address of the holder, or a change (total or partial) in ownership or a limitation of the list of goods and services may be recorded with effect for several designated Contracting Parties through a single simple procedural step and the payment of a single fee. Moreover, there is only one expiry date and only one registration to renew.
49. International registration is also to the advantage of Trademark Offices. They do not need to examine for compliance with formal requirements, or classify the goods or services, or publish the marks. Moreover, they are compensated for the work that they perform; the individual fees collected by the International Bureau are transferred to the Contracting Parties in respect of which they have been paid, while the complementary and supplementary fees are distributed annually among the Contracting Parties not receiving individual fees, in proportion of the number of designations made of each of them.