A. THE INTERNATIONAL WORLD OF TRADEMARKS
1. The European Union
In the European Union the Community Trademark (CTM) registration system covers all EU countries with a single procedure and results in a single registration. The coverage of the CTM registration will expand along with the EU and any new countries will automatically be included at no extra cost.
2. The World
The United States is a member of the Madrid Protocol.
There are more than 88 members, including nearly all European countries, Russia, Australia, China, Japan, and Singapore. More countries are expected to join.
Why should you care? Possibly because a single application filed in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) can be an effective filing in all or any chosen number of those member countries. The filing fee is much less than the investment to file in several individual countries. Once the Protocol registrations are completed, renewals every ten years can be effected with a single, inexpensive filing.
After the initial Protocol filing is made, each designated country will determine, according to its own law, whether the mark is registrable in that country. The final result is a registration which is enforceable in all the states where the mark is accepted.
A potential drawback is that the Protocol registration is for exactly the same goods or services as is the basic or home country registration. This is a potential disadvantage for U.S. applicants because the USPTO is so restrictive in its requirements for the identification of goods. This restrictive aspect is not true of individual country or CTM registrations.
Further, in the first five years, the Protocol registration lives or dies with the home country registration. This is also not true of individual country or CTM registrations.
The Madrid Protocol provides one more alternative and one more bit of complexity in the decision making process for the business person.