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Negotiations for Revision of Trademark Law Treaty Gather Pace

Geneva, November 1, 2004
Press Updates UPD/2004/232

Negotiations for the revision of a key international treaty in the field of trademarks gathered pace last week at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva. Delegates attending the WIPO Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications (SCT) from October 25 to 29, 2004, made significant progress in fine-tuning legal texts to revise the existing Trademark Law Treaty (TLT) bringing it in line with the technological advances of the past decade. This follows on the heels of a decision by WIPO member states at their annual meetings in October 2004 to convene a Diplomatic Conference on the revision of the TLT in March 2006. The SCT was attended by 83 member states, 3 intergovernmental organizations and 11 non-governmental organizations.

Revision of the Trademark Law Treaty

The Trademark Law Treaty (TLT) was concluded in 1994 with a view to streamlining and simplifying, on a worldwide basis, administrative procedures relating to national and regional trademark applications and the maintenance of trademark registrations. The TLT currently has 33 member countries. Companies seeking trademark protection must, as a first step, meet certain formality requirements in order to avoid rejection of their application and a consequent loss of rights. These formalities generally vary from one country to another and the TLT has successfully introduced standard requirements to be followed in procedures before trademark offices.

In order to keep pace with developments in telecommunication and to create an institutional framework allowing the adaptation of certain administrative details regulated under the treaty, the revision of the TLT envisages the inclusion into the treaty of provisions on electronic filing of trademark applications and associated communications, provisions concerning the recording of trademark licenses, relief measures when certain time limits have been missed, and the establishment of an assembly of the contracting parties.

The SCT reached consensus on a range of articles and rules including the marks to which the treaty applies, questions relating to communications, measures in case of failure to comply with time limits, duration and renewal of registration, questions relating requests for recordal, amendment or cancellation of a license.

For further information relating to the evolution of discussions relating to the revision of the TLT, please see UPD 223/2004 and UPD/2003/211)

Information Concerning Member States' Trademark Law and Practice

The SCT also reviewed and discussed a provisional summary of responses from member states to a questionnaire on national trademark law and practice. This survey, which contains a large number of questions on national trademark law and practice was circulated to SCT members in August 2003. To date, 69 countries and 3 intergovernmental organizations have submitted some 22,000 responses which have been compiled in the provisional summary document. Countries and intergovernmental organizations that have responded to the questionnaire have until the beginning of 2005 to review and submit comments on their inputs. After this time the final version of the document, which will take into account all comments received, will be submitted to the SCT. This document could serve as a basis for future work of the SCT.

Internet Domain Names and Geographical Indications

The SCT also considered the issue of the abusive registration of geographical indications as Internet domain names. Without entering into a substantive discussion, the SCT decided to keep this item on its mid-term agenda.

The next session of the SCT will be held from April 18 to 22, 2005.

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