Poland joined the Madrid Agreement on the International Registration of Trademarks in 1991. The Agreement was signed on 14 April 1891 as part of Paris Union Convention on Intellectual Property Protection on 14 April 1891. It came into effect on 15 June 1892. Currently about 80 states are members of the treaty. The area covered by the agreement is continuously growing. For example, in November 2003 the system was joined by the United States of America, and in October 2004 by the European Union.
Following the provisions of the Madrid Agreement, a trademark can be registered through one proceeding for the territory of several or even scores of countries. A registration of this kind is based on earlier national registration or application of a trademark in the country of the Applicant’s origin. Thus the national registration or application of a trademark in the country of origin is the basis for the international registration under the Madrid Agreement. As for the Applicants from Poland the basis for the registration under this procedure is a trademark registration or application at the Polish Patent Office or at the OHIM Alicante.
In 1996 a Protocol to the Madrid Agreement was concluded. It was joined by 39 states, including a number of signatory states of the Agreements. Poland is a member of both the Agreement and the Protocol. The Protocol introduced a number of significant changes referring to the provisions of the Agreement. First of all it provided for a possibility to obtain international trademark protection immediately on the basis of the national application in the country of origin. There is no need to wait until the registration, which in some states is granted after a relatively long period of time.
To obtain an international trademark registration, it is necessary to prepare and file an international registration application at the World International Property Organization in Geneva - the WIPO International Office. The filing of such application and the payment of charges allows one to obtain the trademark protection in the designated member states to the Agreement and/or the Protocol. The protection obtained in the designated states is equal to the protection obtained for a trademark under national procedure in these states.
After the international registration, the WIPO International Office notifies the national bodies of the states designated in the application by the Applicant. The Patent Offices of these states have a limited period of time to refuse the approval of the international registration within the limits of its country. Lack of refusal stands for the acknowledgement of the trademark protection within the country. The trademark protection is granted for 10 years with an option to renew for further periods of 10 years. The charges for the protection are paid to the WIPO International Office for every protection period.
The greatest advantages of the international trademark registration under the Madrid Agreement and/or Protocol are:
a relatively low cost of registration,
registration applies in many countries,
the Agreement and the Protocol cover a large area.