Since April 1996, companies in the UK have been able to register their trade marks on a wider international scale through a scheme known as the Madrid Protocol. This is a treaty administered by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), an arm of the United Nations based in Geneva.
Under the Protocol, when an applicant has registered (or filed an application to register) a mark in their own country, he or she can apply for an international trade mark to be registered with WIPO for all or some of the countries who have signed up to the protocol. Click here for a full list of countries.
An international registration is not in itself a multinational mark, but a mechanism for obtaining a bundle of national rights. Once WIPO is satisfied with your application, it will enter the mark on the international register and notify the countries specified in your application.WIPO will also advertise the mark in the International Gazette.
Each country then has up to 18 months to object. If one or more countries object and you either do not argue your case or you lose the argument, your mark will not be accepted in those countries. However, it may be acceptable in other countries and will be recorded accordingly on the international register.
The advantages of registering through the protocol are: ease of administration – there is no need to work through trade mark attorneys in every protocol country unless you face oppositions or objections to the application in that country cost savings, through keeping professional fees to a minimum flexibility, in that you can register in one or more protocol countries.