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Who will be next to join the Madrid Protocol?

Binying Wang, WIPO’s Assistant Director General, told users of the Madrid Protocol yesterday that they should expect further expansion of the System in the next few years.

Following the recent accessions of Colombia, India, Mexico and New Zealand, Wang said she hoped another two to three countries would join the Protocol this year. Possible future signatories include Barbados, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Pakistan, South Africa and Tunisia. Brazil has also recently modernized its trademark prosecution systems, which some see as a sign it is preparing to join.

In addition, it is possible that Trinidad and Tobago will join next year and that all 10 ASEAN member countries would be members by 2015.

Following the accession of India last month, the Protocol now covers 88 countries and the EU, covering two-thirds of the world’s population. At yesterday’s WIPO session, Junying Tao, Senior Counsellor for the Information and Promotion Division of WIPO, said the number of applications under the Madrid Protocol continued to grow in 2012. Last year, over 44,000 international applications were received, up from over 42,000 in 2011.

Europe was the largest source of applications, followed by the United States. Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis was the top filer under the Madrid Protocol in 2012, with 176 applications. At the end of 2012 there were half a million registrations in force under the System belonging to 178,000 trademark owners.

The top category for filing, with over 9,500 applications last year, was computer hardware, software and other electrical or electronic apparatus of a scientific nature.

Designs progress

Panelist Gregoire Bisson, Head of WIPO’s International Designs Registry, said the Hague System is also expanding its influence. The 60-member System offers similar benefits to the Madrid Protocol, allowing an owner of an industrial design to file an international registration in all signatory countries, unless a country’s national office refuses protection in that country.

Bisson told attendees that between 2001 and 2011, the number of applications for industrial designs increased by 158%. But over the same period, he said that non-resident filings have remained flat while resident filings have grown.

Several large countries may soon become members of the Hague System, including China, Japan and the United States. Korea and Russia are also expected to join in 2014. However, Bisson said that the expansion would result in “an unavoidable complication” of the system, because of differences between the legal systems in member states and those in potential signatories. For example, the examination process in China, Japan, Korea and the United States includes requirements relating to novelty.

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