The three offices presenting this year are among the biggest players in the Madrid System. In addition, OHIM and IP Australia are what Debbie Roenning of WIPO calls “model offices” from WIPO’s perspective as they communicate with the International Bureau entirely online. At present, only six of the 85 member states do so, although more than 70% of them communicate electronically for some transactions.
Neil Wilson, a director in WIPO’s brands and designs sector, says the Organization is encouraging greater use of electronic communication, but take up has been “piecemeal at best”. He adds: “We see progressive improvement, but obviously it is a question of priority and there are political and resource constraints.”
Wilson said that e-communication means faster reaction, more efficient processes and more predictable results for users. For example, sending images digitally rather than by fax leads to fewer errors and means data can be manipulated more easily.
But it is not just IP offices that WIPO wants to talk to electronically. It is also rolling out three new online services for trademark owners and applicants. These are: Madrid Portfolio Manager, which enables users to see the status of all the international marks in their portfolio, as well as manage payment and renewals online; Real Time Status, which allows anyone to check the status of Madrid registrations online; and Madrid Electronic Alerts, a watching service for international registrations, which sends an email alert whenever there is a development with a particular mark.
All three services are being beta-tested and will be demonstrated at WIPO’s booth in the Exhibition Hall during the Annual Meeting. They are expected to be fully operational in the second half of this year. Wilson told the INTA Daily News he is “very confident that the software works well” and invited all attendees to visit the booth to test all three systems and provide feedback on how they work and if they need to be improved. “A key priority for us is to improve e-commerce with holders of international registrations,” he said.
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