October 21, 2013
Tunisia's Minister of Industry Mehdi Jomâa and WIPO Director General Francis Gurry today hailed the entry into force of the Madrid Protocol in Tunisia, while reviewing bilateral cooperation and discussing WIPO's future technical assistance to Tunisia.
Tunisia deposited its instrument of accession to the Madrid Protocol for the International Registration of Marks on July 16, 2013 and the treaty entered into force for Tunisia on October 16, 2013. The Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks (Madrid system), now with 92 members, offers trademark owners a cost effective, user friendly and streamlined means of protecting and managing their trademark portfolio internationally.
Mr. Gurry welcomed Tunisia’s accession, noting that “Tunisia’s accession further broadens the global reach of the Madrid system.” The Director General said: “Brand owners from all Madrid system members will now be able to extend their protection to the important Tunisian market, through a single, simplified and cost-effective procedure.”
Mr. Jomâa noted that Tunisia’s participation in the Madrid system is a welcome development for Tunisian businesses, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as international businesses wishing to acquire brand protection in Tunisia.
The Madrid system has experienced exceptional expansion recently. In the last 18 months, the Colombia, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines and Rwanda have each acceded, resulting in a significant geographical expansion of the system.
Despite the uncertain global economic condition, the Madrid system has shown signs of strength: 2012 saw the highest number of international trademark applications ever filed under the Madrid system, with 44,018 applications, or a 4.1 % increase compared to 2011. Furthermore, a record number of 41,954 international registrations were recorded.
Under the WIPO-administered Madrid system, a trademark owner may protect a mark in up to 90 countries plus the European Union with its Community Trade Mark (CTM) by filing one application, in one language (English, French or Spanish), with one set of fees, in one currency (Swiss Francs). Applicants wishing to use the Madrid system must apply for trademark protection in a relevant national or regional trademark office before seeking international protection. An international registration under the Madrid system produces the same effects as an application for registration of the mark in each of the contracting parties designated by the applicant.
If protection is not refused by the trademark office of a designated Contracting Party, the status of the mark is the same as if it had been registered by that Office. Thereafter, the international registration can be maintained and renewed through a single procedure. Thus, the system provides a cost-effective and efficient way for trademark holders to secure and maintain protection for their marks in multiple countries.
Trademarks are a key component of any successful business marketing strategy as they allow companies to identify, promote and license their goods or services in the marketplace and to distinguish them from those of their competitors, and cement customer loyalty. A trademark symbolizes the promise of a quality product and in today’s global and increasingly electronic marketplace, a trademark is often the only way for customers to identify a company’s products and services. Trademark protection hinders moves to “free ride” on the goodwill of a company by using similar distinctive signs to market inferior or similar products or services. Loss, dilution or infringement of a high-value trademark could prove devastating to a business.
The international trademark system is governed by two treaties, namely, the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks (1891) and the Madrid Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks (1989).