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A Full Guide to the Madrid Agreement

The Madrid Agreement Background

The Madrid Agreement, also commonly referred to as the Madrid System, is the international system responsible for the registration of trademarks at the international level. International registration of trademarks is necessary for owner's of a particular mark to have their trademark rights and protections respected and adhered to in foreign nations. There are two treaties under the Madrid Agreement, the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks of 1891, and the Protocol Relating to that Agreement, implemented in 1989.

The first treaty sets up the actual structure of what is referred to as the Madrid System, which provides for the various regulations, requirements, and restrictions concerning international trademarks and their registration. The Madrid Protocol is a revision of the original provisions found in the Madrid System, with the ultimate purpose of allowing for more flexible consideration of its legislation by countries that have not part of the Agreement, or their country's trademark laws prevented them to meet the instated requirements under the first treaty.

The Madrid System provides a trademark owner with the convenience of being able to register a trademark for international consideration for various countries in one application and registration process. Registration will give those trademarks the rights and protections instituted by those countries as if it were registered domestically.

The Madrid Agreement is presided by the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization located in Geneva, Switzerland. The Madrid Agreement currently has 84 members total that adhere to its regulations and provisions, including both the Madrid System and the Madrid Protocol. The Madrid Protocol itself, being a separate treaty, is adhered to by 78 members. Many of these members are actually party to both treaties, being that the Madrid System was instituted in 1891, and the Protocol, most recently created in 1989. The Madrid System still provides for certain advantages that enticed many nations to join the Madrid Agreement in the first place.

The main advantage is that a trademark owner can apply for international registration domestically to gain protection to any or all of the participating countries with one application and registration procedure and one collective fee. This eliminates the need to submit a separate application for each country that the trademark's owner seeks protection in.

The main requirement of the Madrid Agreement is that the trademark must first federally registered in the country of origin for eligibility at the international level. Changes to the registration, such as names or addresses, can also be done through one application so as to centrally amend the registration and apply such changes to the various nation's own record for those trademarks.

However, one key disadvantage and negative aspect of this procedure is that such changes in the actual registration will effectively be applied to all countries recognizing that trademark; this proves to have a negative effect is the original registration shows that the trademark is applied to more than one type of product. If that product is no longer used under that specific trademark, and the application for the change is filed, the change will also apply across the board.

This eliminates the possibility for the owner of the trademark to commercially use the trademark for that product in one country, but not in another. Furthermore, this also applies if the registration is cancelled, revoked or denied by the domestic standards, and is also canceled at the international level under the Madrid Agreement.

The Madrid Protocol revised some of these provisions found under the original Madrid Agreement, allowing for certain procedures that can circumvent some of the extenuating circumstances, but prove to be quite an expensive undertaking, and only used if when no other option is available. The United States is not a party to the Madrid Agreement, but did enlist as a party to the Madrid Protocol on November 2nd, 2003.

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