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Negotiators Adopt Singapore Treaty to Facilitate International Trademark Registration

Geneva, March 28, 2006
Press Releases PR/2006/442

A new international treaty on trademarks, to be known as the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks in recognition of the country that hosted the final round of negotiations, was adopted on March 28, 2006 by member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The new treaty concludes efforts by WIPO's member states to update the 1994 Trademark Law Treaty (TLT) and bring it in line with the technological developments of the past decade.

In his message to the closing ceremony of the Diplomatic Conference for the Adoption of a Revised Trademark Law Treaty, WIPO Director General, Dr. Kamil Idris, said that this "was an historic day" for WIPO and its member states. "A new intellectual property treaty has been adopted by the entire membership of the Organization. It marks a major milestone for WIPO and for the international intellectual property community. In establishing the Treaty, henceforth known in history as the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks, the Governments of WIPO's member states collectively send out a powerful message to all sectors of society across the globe. The message is that in the 21st century, where innovation and knowledge have emerged as a key factor of economic wellbeing, intellectual property has a central role to play in the new information society." He added "The Singapore Treaty reaffirms the importance of trademarks, one of the major forms of intellectual property, in promoting domestic and international trade and in enhancing enterprise development and consumer confidence."

Dr. Idris paid tribute to "the spirit of goodwill and mutual understanding of the negotiators throughout the past two and a half weeks. It is thanks to their joint efforts and commitment to intellectual property that the hard work has been crowned with success. The part played individually and collectively by the delegations, their readiness to share and accommodate each other's concerns, have made the difference." He said "The successful outcome of the Diplomatic Conference is testimony to the common initiatives, collective wisdom and international cooperation of WIPO's member states."

The Director General thanked the Government of Singapore for hosting the conference, and praised the President of the conference, Ambassador Burhan Gafoor, for his able leadership in steering negotiations to a successful outcome. "That the delegations were able to focus all their attention on the negotiations at hand, untroubled by concerns about administrative details, is the merit of our host, the Government of Singapore," Dr. Idris said. "Through meticulous preparations and the provision of impeccable conference facilities, the host Government permitted the meetings and discussions to run smoothly and seamlessly. I am sure that I speak not only for the Organization but for its entire membership as well as all participants in the Conference when I say how indebted we are to the generosity, hospitality and friendship of the Government and people of Singapore," he added. In particular, the Director General singled out for special mention the Ministry of Law, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore.

The diplomatic conference opened on March 13, 2006 and was slated to end on March 28, 2006. The positive atmosphere of the negotiations and a strong commitment to concluding the treaty resulted in negotiations ending three days ahead of schedule. The President of the Diplomatic Conference, Ambassador Burhan Gafoor, who is also Singapore's Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization and the United Nations in Geneva, said this is a sign of commitment to enhancing the regulatory environment for the branded goods industry.

Commenting on the talks, Ambassador Gafoor said "I was impressed by the level of commitment shown by member states of WIPO to ensure a successful conclusion to the negotiations. The delegates worked hard, oftentimes meeting into the night, to ensure we had an outcome that was satisfactory to all parties. I believe this was because every delegate in the conference recognized the importance of the treaty; it will boost international trade and deliver an enhanced and harmonized trademark procedure that will benefit nations, brands and businesses. The consultations and discussions reflected the constructive spirit of cooperation and compromise among WIPO members. I would like to express my gratitude for all their efforts and perseverance, which made this treaty possible."

The conference was opened by Dr. Idris and Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Law Professor S. Jayakumar (please see https://www.wipo.int/pressroom/en/prdocs/2006/wipo_pr_2006_439.html). A total of 162 delegations representing WIPO member states as well as a number of intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) participated in the conference.

The Singapore Treaty deals mainly with procedural aspects of trademark registration and licensing. By agreeing to common standards in that area, member states create a level playing field for all economic operators that invest in branded goods. More than that, the Singapore Treaty creates a dynamic regulatory framework for brand rights. Due to the creation of an Assembly of the contracting parties, the Treaty has a built-in review mechanism for administrative details of a less order, although of great practical importance for brand owners.

The Treaty recognizes developments in the branded goods industry and marks a new approach to securing investment in product differentiation. Brands are no longer confined to stickers or labels on goods; today, the brand stands for the product's identity. Creativity and investment goes into the development of brands, and it is vital for the industry to be able to secure that investment. New rules applicable to all types of trademarks, as contained in the Singapore Treaty, address those needs. The Singapore Treaty takes into account the advantages and potential of electronic communication facilities, while recognizing the varying needs of both developing and developed nations. During negotiations some developing and least developed states expressed concern about their ability to fully benefit from the Treaty. These discussions resulted in a firm commitment by industrialized countries to provide adequate technical assistance and other forms of support to strengthen the institutional capacity of those countries to enable them to take full advantage of the Treaty.

For further information, please contact the Media Relations and Public Affairs Section at WIPO:

  • Tel: (+41 22) 338 81 61 or (+41 22) 338 95 47;
  • E-mail: publicinf@wipo.int
  • Fax: (+41 22) 338 82 80.