Summary of the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks (2006)
The Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks was adopted by the Diplomatic Conference for the Adoption of a Revised Trademark Law Treaty, that took place in Singapore, from March 13 to 28, 2006.
The objective of the Singapore Treaty is to create a modern and dynamic international framework for the harmonization of administrative trademark registration procedures. Building on the Trademark Law Treaty of 1994 (TLT 1994), the new Treaty has a wider scope of application and addresses new developments in the field of communication technology. As compared with the TLT 1994, the Singapore Treaty is applicable to all types of marks registrable under the law of a given Contracting Party; Contracting Parties are free to choose the means of communication with their Offices (including communications in electronic form or by electronic means of transmittal); relief measures in respect of time limits as well as provisions on the recording of trademark licenses are introduced, and an Assembly of the Contracting Parties is established. Other provisions of the Singapore Treaty (such as the requirements to provide for multi-class applications and registrations, and the use of the International ("Nice") Classification), closely follow the TLT 1994. The two treaties are separate, and may be ratified or adhered to independently.
As opposed to the TLT 1994, the Singapore Treaty applies generally to marks that can be registered under the law of a Contracting Party. Most significantly, it is the first time that non-traditional marks are explicitly recognized in an international instrument dealing with trademark law. The Treaty is applicable to all types of marks, including non-traditional visible marks, such as holograms, three-dimensional marks, color, position and movement marks, and also non-visible marks, such as sound, olfactory or taste and feel marks. The Regulations provide for the mode of representation of these marks in applications, which may include non-graphic or photographic reproductions.
The Singapore Treaty leaves Contracting Parties the freedom to choose the form and means of transmittal of communications and whether they accept communications on paper, communications in electronic form or any other form of communication. This has consequences on formal requirements for applications and requests, such as the signature on communications with the Office. The Treaty maintains a very important provision of the TLT 1994, namely that the authentication, certification or attestation of any signature on paper communications cannot be required. However, Contracting Parties are free to determine whether and how they wish to implement a system of authentication of electronic communications.
As a new feature, the Treaty provides for relief measures when an applicant or a holder has missed a time limit in an action for a procedure before the Office. Contracting Parties must make available, at their choice, at least one of the following relief measures: extension of the time limit, continued processing and reinstatement of rights if the failure to meet the time limit was unintentional or occurred in spite of due care required by the circumstances.
The Singapore Treaty includes provisions on the recording of trademark licenses, and establishes maximum requirements for the requests for recordal, amendment or cancellation of the recordal of a license.
The creation of an Assembly of the Contracting Parties introduces a degree of flexibility for the definition of details concerning administrative procedures to be implemented by national trademark offices where it is anticipated that future developments in trademark registration procedures and practice will warrant the amendments of those details. The Assembly is endowed with powers to modify the Regulations and the Model International Forms, where necessary and it can also dealat a preliminary levelwith questions relating to the future development of the Treaty.
Furthermore, the Diplomatic Conference adopted a Resolution Supplementary to the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks and the Regulations Thereunder, with a view to declaring an understanding by the Contracting Parties on several areas covered by the Treaty, namely: that the Treaty does not impose any obligations on Contracting Parties to (i) register new types of marks, or (ii) implement electronic filing systems or other automation systems. Special provisions are made to provide developing and least developed countries (LDCs) with additional technical assistance and technological support to enable them to take full advantage of the provisions of the Treaty. It was recognized that LDCs shall be the primary and main beneficiaries of technical assistance by Contracting Parties of WIPO. The future Assembly is charged with the task to monitor and evaluate, at every ordinary session, the progress of the assistance granted, and it is provided that any dispute arising with respect to the interpretation or application of the Treaty should be settled amicably through consultation and mediation under the auspices of the Director General of WIPO.
The Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks is open for signature by States members of WIPO and certain intergovernmental organizations until March 27, 2007. Instruments of ratification or accession must be deposited with the Director General of WIPO. The Treaty shall enter into force three months after ten States or intergovernmental organizations having a regional trademark office have deposited their instruments of ratification or accession.