Since November 2, 2003, the United States has participated in an international treaty for trademark filings called the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks, June 27, 1989 (Madrid Protocol).  The Madrid Protocol provides an international trademark registration system that creates a streamlined process for marks registered in any member country. In other words, under the Madrid Protocol, United States citizens and companies can file trademark applications in other Protocol member countries directly through the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Madrid Protocol - TrademarksFor example, if you have a federal trademark registration with the USPTO, you may file a single trademark application for a single international trademark registration by designating any member nation, and apply for trademark registration in that country as well.  The trademark applications are then sent to the trademark offices for each of the designated countries. Each trademark office will conduct its own review of the application to determine registrability of the trademark. It is important to note that you must register your trademark in every single nation that you want protection.  Simply because your trademark is registered in one country, does not automatically mean that it will be registered in every member nation. In the event an applicant receives an office action or opposition, the applicant may need to hire local attorneys in that country to handle the matter.

The Madrid Protocol provides only a system for filing trademark applications – trademark applicants are responsible for performing any preliminary trademark search or knock out searches to determine whether a trademark is available in a particular country and for determining what trademark use requirements a particular country have been satisfied.

For more information on the Madrid Protocol system, see, Madrid Protocol Contracting Parties, for a list of the 91 member nations.