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International Trademarks: The Madrid Protocol

In many aspects of business, one of the most important assets that your company or product can have is its name. A brand name allows for customers to establish brand loyalty, product recognition, and a strong association between your product, its quality, and its name. Because of the importance of brand names, it is crucial to protect them in every way possible. This is where trademarks come in.

A trademark is an intellectual property ("IP") protection for words, symbols, or some combination of unique and identifying characters that identify a specific good or service. It is integral to the success of your business to protect your brand in all markets in which your product will be sold. One way to trademark your brand is through the Madrid Protocol.

The Madrid Protocol is a way to file one application for trademark protection in a group of participating nations. The process begins with filing for trademark protection in a “host country”. A host country is a member country of the Madrid Protocol that can independently file your trademark. The host country granting your trademark is a fundamental step to having international protection through the Madrid Protocol since the application must include a previously approved host country application. 

After your application is approved by the host country, the international aspect begins. The next step is filling out and submitting the application for international trademark protection through the World International Property Organization ("WIPO") which serves as the governing body over the Madrid Protocol. In this application to the WIPO, you can select which member countries you would like to consider your application. Each country will independently review the application and decide whether or not to grant your brand trademark rights in their country. 


Applying for protection under the Madrid Protocol is financially advantageous for businesses because it saves companies from enduring the costs of applying for multiple separate trademarks. Instead of hiring independent counsel in each of the 120 member countries and paying for their services, an entrepreneur can use one application to cover all member countries and consequently save substantial amounts of money. However, one of the drawbacks of applying with the uniform application is that you must wait until your home country application is accepted to ensure a valid international application. 

In short, the Madrid Protocol is a great way for small, medium, and large businesses alike to apply for protection in the form of a trademark in a timely and cost-effective manner. 

For any questions regarding the Madrid Protocol or assistance filing both home country and international trademark applications, please contact us at Aviv Lazar&Co.

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