Trademark protection under the Madrid Protocol gains a foothold in South America

Last year I posted about how even small and midsized companies can use the Madrid system to extend protection of their U.S. trademark registrations overseas. To recap, the Madrid System allows trademark owners to file a single application seeking an International Registration with the World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”) and then enables registrants to designate other member countries in which they want protection for their brand. The system is administrative in as much as  the trademark authority in each member country still reviews and grants (or more likely simply doesn’t reject) each application. Still the cost savings  can be significant as compared to filing and obtaining protection in each country individually and the system has been a success in the international community. Perhaps indicative of our increasingly global economy, 2011 saw 42,270 international trademark applications filed under the Madrid system, highest number ever filed in a single year and a 6.5 % increase over 2010.

One drawback has been that South and Central American Nations have, until now, been entirely absent.  This may be changing as, on June 11, Columbia became the 87th member country of the international trademark system and the first in South America. Beginning on August 29, 2012, U.S. trademark registrants will be able to designate Columbia under the Madrid Protocol in order to obtain protection there. Mexico also recently completed the domestic legislative processes necessary to pave the way to accession to the agreement, as did India and New Zealand.