International Trademark Law
From a global perspective and in the same respect as copyrights, there is not a single method of securing a trademark that protects a company’s mark in every country around the globe in the same way. However, unlike copyrights, there is something closer to an international trademark system, the Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks (also known at the “Madrid Protocol” or “Madrid System”). The Madrid System, which consists of 84 countries, allows companies to secure a trademark through the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). There are two separate treaties which govern the Madrid System, the Madrid System Agreement and The Madrid System Protocol. By successfully filing a trademark in the Madrid System, the applicant’s mark is protected in all participating countries, but subject to the laws of the specific country in which infringement occurs. So it’s not a system that technically unifies the laws of all the participating countries, rather it’s a system that makes it easy for a company that desires trademark protection throughout much of the world to accomplish that goal with a single filing.
In order to submit a trademark registration to the Madrid System, a company must first be awarded trademark registration in one of the member countries, preferably the country where the person/company is located and/or conducts business. So for American companies, filing a trademark registration with the USPTO is a necessary first step before filing with the Madrid System. Filing with the Madrid System is also done through the USPTO, and the cost ranges from $100-$150 per application (about half of filing with the USPTO). The same class system is used internationally as in the United States. And these “international trademarks” through the Madrid System last for 10 years. For more on the Madrid system, please click here. (On an ironic side note, the “Madrid” System is based in… Geneva!)