Using the Madrid System to register your trade mark in Malaysia

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WRITTEN BY XUAN NGUYEN

 

On 27 September 2019, Malaysia became the 106th member of the Madrid system upon depositing its instrument of accession to the Madrid Protocol with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The protocol will enter into force in Malaysia on 27 December 2019, extending the Madrid System to cover 122 countries. With the addition of Malaysia, all the countries in the South-East Asian region, except Myanmar, are now members of the Madrid System.

After the protocol comes into force, foreign companies will have two options for registering their trade marks in Malaysia, i.e. filing a trade mark application directly with Malaysia’s IP office, or filing an international trade mark application with the IP office of their home country and selecting Malaysia as one of the designated countries. Before you decide which option is more convenient for you, we would like to provide an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of the Madrid System.

What is the Madrid System?

The Madrid System, administered by WIPO, is a convenient and cost-effective solution for registering and managing trade marks worldwide. The system allows brand owners to protect their trade marks in up to 122 countries by filing one application, using one language (English, French or Spanish) and paying one set of fees.

Under the Madrid System, you need to submit an international trade mark application with the office of the home country in which refers to the national application or registration in respect of the same trade mark and select the countries where you want to register your trade mark as designated countries. After receiving the international trade mark application, your office of origin will check, certify, and then submit it to WIPO. WIPO will examine your international application in term of formalities (e.g. the applicant’s name and address, the quality of the image of mark, the classification of goods/services according to the Nice Agreement, application fees, etc.). If your application meets all the formal requirements, WIPO will record the mark in the International Register, publish it in the WIPO Gazette of International Marks and notify all the IP offices in the designated countries so that these offices can begin the substantive examination of the application at a national level in their jurisdictions. A result concerning the protection or refusal of the trade mark will be made within the time limit of 12 months or 18 months (for certain countries).

Advantages

  • Centralised and simplified registration and management system

To have your trade mark protected in multiple countries, instead of going to each country to file your trade mark application, when using the Madrid System the applicant just needs to file one international trade mark application to the office of origin, using one language and paying a single set of fees. Any amendment, such as changes (name, address, ownership, etc.), cancellation or licenses can be recorded in the International Register by simply submitting one request. Likewise, when the trade mark registration is due for renewal, the trade mark holder can renew it with WIPO in respect of all the designated countries or only some of them.

Overall, the Madrid System enables the brand owners to register and manage their trade mark portfolio in multiple countries via a simplified and convenient system.

  • Cost-effective and time-saving

By filing only one application rather than various applications in various countries, the applicant can save time and money. For example, it is not necessary to pay for translations of the documents or local agent fees which are normally incurred if an application is filed directly with the IP offices of the target countries. In many countries, the examination of trade mark applications at the national level can take up to 4 years due to backlogs. Under the Madrid system, however, the designated offices have to decide within 12 months or 18 months.

  • Subsequent designation

The Madrid System allows trade mark holders to designate additional countries alongside their existing trade mark registration. This subsequent designation procedure is very beneficial to brand owners who want to expand their business scope to new markets as they do not need to file separate applications in the new target countries.

  • Global system

With the Madrid System, you can register and manage your trade marks in up to 122 countries, representing over 80% of world trade.

Disadvantages

  • Central attack

Under the Madrid System, international registration remains dependent on the  basic application/registration in the country of origin for a period of 5 years from the date of its registration. Therefore, if the national application is rejected or withdrawn, or if the the national registration is canceled during this period, the international registration will no longer be protected unless within 3 months of the cancellation, the holder files trade mark applications for registration with the offices in each of the designated countries.

  • Refusal by national office

Laws and practices differ from country to country. It is still possible that you receive a refusal decision from some of the designated countries. In this case, the holder cannot communicate through the International Bureau but has to directly respond to and work with the national offices where the protection is rejected. In some countries, it is mandatory to use a representative agency to respond to the national office. Refusals may be avoided if, before filing, the trade mark holder identifies the countries in which rejection is likely and consults a local lawyer with expertise on the topic in order to develop a registration strategy.

Summary

Thanks to its centralised and simplified registration and management procedures, the Madrid System is a convenient solution for brand owners to protect their trade marks when doing business internationally. Nevertheless, brand owners should consult with local lawyers to develop trade mark registration strategies in certain countries where there is a high possibility of refusal by the national office.

Indonesia Joins the Madrid Protocol

shutterstock_56485213More good news for the European SMEs wishing to register their trade mark in South-East Asian countries, as in addition to Thailand, Indonesia has also joined the Madrid Protocol. Today’s blog post explaining Indonesia’a accession to Madrid Protocol has been kindly drafted for us by our South-East Asia IPR SME Helpdesk external expert Ms. Wongrat Ratanaprayul from Tilleke & Gibbins. 

On October 2, 2017, Indonesia’s Ministry of Law and Human Rights submitted its instrument of accession to the Madrid Protocol, making Indonesia the 100th member state under the treaty. As a result, brand owners will be able to seek protection under the Madrid Protocol from January 2, 2018, onwards.

Once the Madrid System comes into force in Indonesia, the owner of an existing International Trademark Registration (IR) will be able to expand the scope of their protection by filing a subsequent designation to its existing IR, in order to seek additional protection in Indonesia. In addition, trademark owners will be able to file an IR in any other member country designating Indonesia, and trademark owners in Indonesia will similarly be able to file an International Trademark Application to seek protection of their trademark in any other member countries.

Indonesia has opted for an 18-month deadline, within which the registrar is obliged to issue a notification of refusal of international registrations. However, in the case where an opposition is raised by a third party, the Directorate General of Intellectual Property may notify the World Intellectual Property Organization of a notification of refusal after the expiry of the 18-month time limit.   Continue reading “Indonesia Joins the Madrid Protocol” »

Thailand Joins Madrid Protocol

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On August 7, 2017, the Thai government officially deposited the instrument of accession to the Madrid Protocol with the WIPO, marking the starting date of the three-month period before the Protocol becomes effective in Thailand. Consequently, the Madrid System will come into effect for Thailand (the 99th member) as from November 7, 2017.

In its instrument, the government makes declarations on three issues. Firstly, a period to issue provisional refusal will be extended to eighteen months, with further extension possible in case of an opposition. Secondly, an individual fee to be specified in Ministerial Regulations to be issued by virtue of the accession will apply to international applications/registrations designating Thailand. Thirdly, recordal of a license agreements with the International Bureau will not be effective with regard to Thai applications/registrations.

After this deposition, the next step is to issue Ministerial Regulations to elaborate on the process. It is anticipated that the Regulations will contain the following details:

  • All documents submitted through the Thai Trademark Office to the International Bureau must be in English. If the Thai Office finds an international application incorrect or incomplete, the applicant will have to remedy it within 15 days upon receipt of a notice. Otherwise, the Thai Office may not be able to forward the application to the International Bureau within 120 days and the date of filing with the Thai Office will not be considered as the filing date of the international application. If the applicant does not comply with the Thai Office’s notice within 120 days, the application will be deemed abandoned.
  • For an international application designating Thailand, the Thai Trademark Office will translate the necessary content into Thai. In case of provisional refusal, the applicant is required to appoint an agent in Thailand to deal with it.  The response may have to be in Thai. In case of failure to respond, the Thai Office may partially accept the application for the goods/services in relation to which the refusal does not apply.

Continue reading “Thailand Joins Madrid Protocol” »

How to Protect your Trade Mark in South-East Asia

trademarkWith the arrival of the new year, many SMEs are planning to start new business endeavors in the lucrative markets of South-East Asia. However, with all this new year’s enthusiasm, it is very easy to forget that counterfeiting and other IP violations are still commonplace in South-East Asia. Thus, it is very important to have a robust IP strategy in place when entering the promising markets of South-East Asia. In today’s blog post, we are, therefore, taking a closer look at trade mark protection in South-East Asia, focusing on trade mark registration, protection and enforcement. 

Generally speaking, a trade mark is a sign which serves on the market to distinguish the goods and services of one undertaking from others, and over which the owner has an exclusive right. Trade marks are words, logos, devices or other distinctive features which can be represented graphically. In some South-East Asia countries, such as Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand, they may also consist of the shape of goods or their packaging in three-dimensional form. As of now, Singapore is the only South-East Asian country to recognize trade marks based on sound.

Trade marks are an essential part of the identity of goods and services. They help deliver brand recognition, i.e. they distinguish your company from the competition. They also help to build trust, reputation and goodwill for your company as well as play an important role in marketing and advertising. A trade mark can become an important asset with significant monetary value for a company and should, thus, be protected. Continue reading “How to Protect your Trade Mark in South-East Asia” »

Things to Consider before Filing a Trademark Application under the Madrid Protocol in Thailand

FotorCreated222Following an exciting webinar on the Madrid International Trade Mark System last week, our IPR SME Helpdesk  Expert Mr. Franck  Fougere  from Ananda  Intellectual Property has kindly drafted for us a blog post on the pros and cons of filing a trade mark application under the Madrid Protocol in Thailand.

The Madrid Protocol is a system that facilitates trademark applications in multiple countries. Thailand is expected to join the Madrid Protocol before the end of 2016. There are, however, issues that the prudent business owner should consider before filing a trademark application via the Madrid Protocol. These issues are of particular importance  for Thai businesses that plan to file applications in Thailand. Continue reading “Things to Consider before Filing a Trademark Application under the Madrid Protocol in Thailand” »