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What is the Madrid Protocol?

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Brand protection

The Madrid Protocol is an international treaty relating to trade marks

But how does it work, and how can businesses leverage it to expand their brand portfolio internationally

Royal Palace of Madrid, lovely picture.

Photo by Jens Peter Olesen on Unsplash

Words by Dr Martin Douglas Hendry

If you're an entrepreneur, innovator, or brand owner with international ambitions, the world of intellectual property (IP) can be a confusing place. One critical piece of the global IP puzzle is the Madrid Protocol. In this blog post, we'll dive into what the Madrid Protocol is and why it matters for businesses in the UK.



Introduction to the Madrid Protocol


The Madrid Protocol is an international treaty that simplifies the process of protecting trademarks across multiple countries. It allows individuals and companies to file a single application for trademark registration and manage their portfolio of trademarks across multiple countries.

The Madrid Protocol is administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a specialized agency of the United Nations. As of 2023, there are 108 member countries of the Madrid Protocol, including the UK.



Benefits of the Madrid Protocol


There are several key benefits of using the Madrid Protocol for international trademark registration:

Cost-effective: Filing a single international trademark application under the Madrid Protocol can be more cost-effective than filing separate applications in each country.

Simplified process: The Madrid Protocol provides a streamlined process for filing and managing international trademark applications.

Flexibility: The Madrid Protocol allows trademark owners to expand their trademark portfolio to additional countries at any time by filing a single application.

Centralized management: The Madrid Protocol provides a centralized system for managing and renewing trademark registrations across multiple countries.



How to File a Trademark Application Under the Madrid Protocol


To file a trademark application under the Madrid Protocol, you must have a "home" application or a registration in your home country (in the UK, this would be an application or registration with the UK Intellectual Property Office). Once you have your home application or registration, you can file an international application with WIPO using the Madrid Protocol.

The international application must specify which countries you want to protect your trademark in, and you must pay the appropriate fees. WIPO will then review your application and send it to the national IP offices of the countries you've selected for examination.

If your application is successful, your trademark will be registered in each of the countries you've selected. If your application is rejected or opposed in any of the countries, it will be up to you or your representative to resolve the issue.



Considerations for Using the Madrid Protocol


While the Madrid Protocol can be a useful tool for international trademark registration, there are some important considerations to keep in mind:

Timing: It can take longer to register a trademark under the Madrid Protocol than it would through national registration in each country. Additionally, if your home application or registration is rejected, you may lose the opportunity to register your trademark internationally.

Cost: While filing an international trademark application under the Madrid Protocol can be cost-effective, it may not always be the most cost-effective option. In some cases, it may be more cost-effective to file national applications in each country.

Scope: The Madrid Protocol only covers trademarks, not patents or other forms of intellectual property. If you need to protect your patents or other IP internationally, you'll need to use other international treaties or file separate applications in each country.





The Madrid Protocol is an important tool for businesses and entrepreneurs looking to protect their trademarks internationally. While it has its benefits, it's not the right choice for every situation. If you're considering using the Madrid Protocol, it's important to weigh the benefits and drawbacks and consult with an experienced intellectual property lawyer.

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The role of IP law in international business is critical for protecting a company's innovations, creations, and branding. By understanding and properly managing their IP rights, businesses can secure their competitive advantage and ensure that they benefit from their hard work and investment. When expanding into new markets, it is essential for businesses to conduct thorough research and take steps to protect their IP to avoid potential problems and ensure their long-term success.




Look at our other guides that relate to this topic here.

Defending your business against IP infringement

The Role of IP Law in Business Acquisitions and Mergers

The impact of Brexit on UK intellectual property law



Virtuoso Legal is a team of intellectual property specialists based in Leeds and London - operating worldwide. Virtuoso Legal's team of IP experts have successfully tried cases in the IPEC, High Court, Court of Appeals and United Kingdom Supreme Court. In addition, the team assist companies in creating, commercialising and protecting the big ideas that make their business unique. The firm and its professionals are ranked yearly in legal directories such as the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners, cementing their status as a Top 2% law firm in the world.

DISCLAIMER: The content within this post is for educational purposes only. Virtuoso Legal does not take any responsibility for those that use this information and waives any liability for any resulting effect on your personal or commercial circumstances. If you are experiencing an issue and need advice, we strongly encourage you to contact a solicitor to identify your best course of action.

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