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Madrid system

Madrid system

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For the Madrid Protocol relating to mining in the Antarctic see Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty
Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty
The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty, also known as the Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, or the Madrid Protocol, is part of the Antarctic Treaty System...

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 trademark
A trademark, trade mark, or trade-mark is a distinctive sign or indicator used by an individual, business organization, or other legal entity to identify that the products or services to consumers with which the trademark appears originate from a unique source, and to distinguish its products or...

s 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, as in the case of the European CTM system, rather it creates a bundle of national rights, able to be administered centrally. Madrid 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.

Madrid 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.(1) The Madrid system is administered by the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

, Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....



As of 8 December 2010, there will be 85 members comprising the Madrid Union of jurisdictions which have become party to the Agreement or the Protocol or both.

The primary reason the Protocol — which has been in operation since 2004 and has 78 members — is more popular than the Agreement — which has been in operation for more than 110 years and has 56 members — is that the Protocol introduced a number of changes to the Madrid system which significantly enhanced its usefulness to trademark owners.

For example, under the Protocol it is possible to obtain an international registration based on a pending trade mark application, so that a trade mark owner can effectively apply for international registration concurrently with or immediately after filing an application in a member jurisdiction. By comparison, the Agreement requires that the trade mark owner already holds an existing registration in a member jurisdiction, which may often take many months and sometimes years to obtain in the first place. In addition, the Agreement does not provide the option to ‘convert’ international registrations which have been ‘centrally attacked’ (see below).


The Madrid system provides a mechanism whereby a trademark owner who has an existing trademark application or registration (known as the 'basic application' or 'basic registration') in a member jurisdiction may obtain an ‘international registration’ for their trademark from the WIPO. The trademark owner may then extend the protection afforded to the international registration to one or more member jurisdictions, a process known as ‘designation’. A useful feature of the Madrid system is that this protection may generally be extended to additional jurisdictions at any time, such that international trade mark protection can be extended to new jurisdictions which subsequently join Madrid, or to such other jurisdictions as the trade mark owner may choose.
In basic terms, the primary advantage of the Madrid system is that it allows a trademark owner to obtain trademark protection in any or all member states by filing one application in one jurisdiction with one set of fees, and make any changes (e.g. changes of name or address) and renew registration across all applicable jurisdictions through a single administrative process.


One disadvantage of the Madrid system is that any refusal, withdrawal or cancellation of the basic application or basic registration within five years of the registration date of the international registration will lead to the refusal, withdrawal or cancellation of the international registration to the same extent. For example, if a basic application covers 'clothing, headgear and footwear', and 'headgear' is then deleted from the basic application (for whatever reason), 'headgear' will also be deleted from the international application. Therefore, the protection afforded by the international registration in each designated member jurisdiction will only extend to 'clothing and footwear'. If the basic application is rejected as a whole, the international registration would also be totally refused.

The process of attacking the basic application or basic registration for this purpose is generally known as ‘central attack’. Under the Madrid Protocol, the effects of a successful central attack can be mitigated by transforming the international registration into a series of applications in each jurisdiction designated by the international registration, a process known as ‘transformation’. Although transformation is an expensive option of last resort, the resulting applications will receive the registration date of the international registration as their filing date.

In 1997, less than half of a percent of international registrations were canceled as a result of central attack.

The costs savings which usually result from using the Madrid system may be negated by the requirement to use local agents in the applicable jurisdiction if any problems arise.

Recent developments

Two significant recent developments in international trade mark law were the accession of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 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.

See also

  • Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks
    Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks
    The Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks was adopted in Singapore on March 27, 2006. It entered into force on March 16, 2009, following the ratification or accession of ten countries, namely Singapore, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Romania, Denmark, Latvia, Kyrgyzstan, United States of America,...

  • World Intellectual Property Organization
    World Intellectual Property Organization
    The World Intellectual Property Organization is one of the 17 specialized agencies of the United Nations. WIPO was created in 1967 "to encourage creative activity, to promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world"....

External links