WIPO takes a further step towards global registration system


The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has decided to include Spanish as an official language of the Madrid registration system as of April 1 2004. From that date, it will be possible to fill in applications for international registrations under the Madrid Protocol in Spanish. This is a significant move by WIPO, creating closer alignment between the Madrid and Community trademark systems, as well as making the Madrid system more attractive to Spanish-speaking countries.

The Madrid system, whose official languages are currently English and French, was created in 1891 by the Madrid Agreement to provide a cost-effective and efficient way for trademark holders to ensure protection for their marks in multiple countries through the filing of a single application.

It is expected that adding Spanish as an official language will make the system more attractive to Spanish-speaking countries that are not yet signatories to the system. These are Equatorial Guinea and Western Sahara in Africa, Central and South America (except Brazil and Guyana), and the Philippines.

This addition will also make the Madrid system compatible with the Community trademark system, of which Spanish is an official language. According to the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market, one in seven applications for a Community trademark contains Spanish as one of the languages of the application.

The next significant change to the Madrid system will be the accession of the European Union (as a single territory), which is expected to submit its instrument of accession to the Madrid system within the next 12 months. According to WIPO's statistics, 22,236 registrations were filed under the Madrid system in 2002. By comparison, the Community trademark system received 45,104 trademark applications during the same period.

Darren Olivier, Field Fisher Waterhouse, London

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