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An Overview of the Madrid Protocol

The Madrid Protocol Overview

The Madrid Protocol is the most recent of drafted treaties created under the Madrid System. The new treaty was implemented in 1996, and serves to provide for less restrictive requirements and laws that the Madrid Agreement originally contained since 1891.

The Protocol is becoming more popular for use regarding the international registration of trademarks, already having more members than its predecessor. The Protocol is not reliant upon the membership of the Agreement, and nations or countries can choose to join only the Protocol, and adhere to the provisions under that treaty alone.

Background

The Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks, or simply the Madrid Protocol, is one of the two treaties implemented under the Madrid System. The Madrid System is the body of legislation that governs international trademark laws, with the emphasis placed upon the registration process.

The Madrid Protocol is an amendment of sorts, introduced in 1996. Though both have the purpose of international trademark registration, the Protocol is becoming the more popular among the two treaties because it allows for certain provisions that are more flexible than those originally found in the Madrid Agreement.

More importantly, two commercial giants, the United States and the European Union, recently joined the Madrid Protocol as signatories in 2003 and 2004 respectively. The commercial viability in these two nations certainly allows for a more attractive option for other countries to join the Protocol, for The U.S. and E.U only adhere to this body of legislature, and not its predecessor.

Importance of Madrid Protocol

The Madrid Protocol is certainly becoming the method of choice when it comes to choosing a system for international trademark registration. Certain provisions and new regulations allow for a certain freedom that the original Madrid Agreement did not implement.

One of the most recent innovations implemented under the Protocol is that it has adopted the Spanish language as an option in the application filing process. Originally, the Madrid Agreement had only French as its only option. With the introduction of Spanish into the registration procedure, it definitely provides for an attractive option for all Spanish speaking nations, particularly Latin America.
In the world of international trade and commerce, trademarks have become just as important--if not more so--than the actual products or services they represent. Therefore, Latin American countries will definitely weigh the options between the Agreement and the Protocol, with the latter being more commercially viable and successful, considering that the United States is a signatory to that treaty alone; the U.S. and Latin American countries have proven to benefit from trade and commercial exchanges, and the Madrid Protocol offers for yet another avenue to thrive economically.

How to Use the Madrid Protocol

In terms of actually using the Madrid Protocol for the international registration of trademarks, there is not much difference in the process than originally outlined by the Madrid Agreement; the registration process is virtually the same. The differences that exist arise from the actual body of legislation, but not necessarily the registration and application process itself.

The only real difference, however, is the fact that under the Protocol, it is not necessary for a trademark to be fully registered at the national or federal level in its domestic land; a mark can be filed and pending federal approval and still file for international trademark protection.

The Protocol even allows that both the federal and international registration process be done at the same time, provided that both applications are filed correctly, and the owner or holder of the mark follows the procedures for each accurately.

Implications on the United States Trademark Law

The Madrid Protocol is mostly concerned with international relations of trademarks, and does little to affect the member nations or signatories under its legislation. In the case of the United States, there is no actual effect of the Protocol to the nation's own trademark laws; the only consideration to be observed is that international trademarks having the United States as a contracting party must observe the domestic laws of the U.S.

Therefore, it can be surmised that there will simply be more trademarks to police and regulate within the national borders, but the legislation itself is not affected per se.

The only considerable effect the Madrid Protocol had on United States' trademark laws was when the United States passed the Madrid Protocol Implementation Act, which simply stated that the country would join as a member to the Protocol provisions for international registration of trademarks; otherwise, no discernible effect on the actual body of legislation regarding trademarks is to be found.

NEXT: Background Information on the Madrid Protocol

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