Summary of the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks (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), the Singapore Treaty has a wider scope of application and addresses more recent developments in the field of communication technologies. 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 were introduced, and an Assembly of the Contracting Parties established. However, other provisions of the Singapore Treaty (such as the requirements to provide for multiclass applications and registrations and the use of the International ("Nice") Classification) closely follow the TLT. The two treaties are separate, and may be ratified or adhered to independently.

Unlike the TLT, the Singapore Treaty applies generally to all marks that can be registered under the law of a Contracting Party. Most significantly, it is the first international instrument dealing with trademark law to explicitly recognize non-traditional marks. 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, as well as non-visible marks such as sound, olfactory or taste and feel marks. The Regulations Under the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks 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 to accept communications on paper, in electronic form or in another form. 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, 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.

The Treaty provides for relief measures when an applicant or holder has missed a time limit in an action for a procedure before an 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 in so far as 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 requests for recordal, amendment or cancellation of the recordal of a license.

The creation of an Assembly of the Contracting Parties introduced a degree of flexibility in defining the details of administrative procedures to be implemented by national trademark offices, where it is anticipated that future developments in trademark registration procedures and practices will warrant amendments to those details. The Assembly is endowed with powers to modify the Regulations and the Model International Forms, where necessary, and can also address – at a preliminary level – 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. The Resolution also contains special provisions to provide developing and least developed countries 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. The Assembly monitors and evaluates, at every ordinary session, the progress of the assistance granted. Any dispute arising in relation to the interpretation or application of the Treaty is to be settled amicably through consultation and mediation under the auspices of the Director General of WIPO.

The Singapore Treaty was concluded in 2006 and entered into force in 2009.

The Treaty is open to States members of WIPO and to certain intergovernmental organizations. Instruments of ratification or accession must be deposited with the Director General of WIPO.