International Trademarks

It is important to note that although there are systems which facilitate the filing, registration or enforcement of trademark rights in more than one jurisdiction on a regional or global basis (e.g. the Madrid system, see further below), it is currently not possible to file and obtain a single trademark registration which will automatically apply around the world. Like any national law, trademark laws apply only in their applicable country or jurisdiction, a quality which is sometimes known as “territoriality”.

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, rather it 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.

The Madrid system 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. The Madrid system is administered by the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva, Switzerland.

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.