Navigating International Trademark Filing: Advantages, Challenges, and Madrid Protocol Insights

Posted On - 29 July, 2023 • By - King Stubb & Kasiva

A trademark is a distinctive symbol or sign that sets apart the goods or services of one company from those of others, and it is protected by intellectual property rights. However, this protection is typically limited to the territory in which the trademark is registered, this means in case one desires global recognition for their mark, they must seek registration in each country individually.

Alternatively, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) offers a solution known as the Madrid System, which provides a cost-effective and efficient way to apply for international trademark registration. By utilizing the Madrid System, applicants can seek trademark protection in multiple countries through a single application, making it a convenient option for those looking to expand their brand’s reach worldwide. Moreover, trademark registrations are typically valid for ten years and can be indefinitely renewed by paying the necessary fees.

Eligibility For The Madrid System:

The World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) Madrid System is accessible to member countries that wish to obtain international trademark protection. An entity can utilize this system if they have a connection with one of the member countries covered by the Madrid System. This connection can be established through the applicant being domiciled, having a commercial establishment, or being a citizen of a member country.

Madrid Trademark Application in India:

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has authorized the Indian Trademark Office to accept international trademark applications under the Madrid Protocol.

Requirements For Filing A Madrid Trademark Application In India:

To file a Madrid Trademark Application in India, the applicant must meet certain eligibility criteria. They should either be Indian nationals or have a place of business in India. Additionally, they must have an existing trademark application with the Indian Trademark Office, known as the basic application, and specify one or more countries in which they seek international trademark protection. Three main requirements for securing International Trademark Registration are as follows:

  • The applicant should be an Indian national or must have a domicile in India or have a functional establishment in India which should be located in a commercial area.
  • An existing trademark application is required by the Indian Trademark Office, known as the basic application. The trademark and list of goods and services mentioned in the International Trademark Application should be identical to the basic application.
  • Applicant must select one or more countries from member countries of the Madrid System wherein international trademark protection is required.

Benefits Of International Trademark Filing:

  • Legal Protection:

International trademark filing offers legal protection against any unauthorized use of the trademark by third parties. If the trademark is filed, it becomes easier to establish and prove legal rights in court when dealing with infringement cases. Thus, it is essential to have a registered trademark before initiating any legal action against infringements.

  • Business Opportunity:

Trademarks serve as valuable intangible assets that significantly contribute to a brand’s growth. A successful trademark presents a lucrative opportunity for businesses to generate revenue and gain popularity. Companies like Nike or McDonald’s, for instance, have earned royalties through licensing agreements, leveraging the power of their trademarks.

  • Unique Identity:

International trademark filing ensures global recognition for a product, establishing a unique identity in the market. Filing a trademark is the first step towards securing this distinct presence on an international scale.

  • Beneficial for Online Operators:

For e-commerce businesses, international trademark filing plays a vital role in the expansion. Selling products online becomes more accessible to international consumers, leading to increased brand exposure and popularity. Swift international trademark registration helps avoid confusion among buyers and enhances the brand’s reputation.

  • Changes and Renewal:

Upon obtaining international trademark filing, the protection remains valid for ten years from the date of filing. Any necessary changes or renewals can be easily processed. For renewal, simply submit the same application form initially submitted to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

  • Protects Your Brand During Export/Import:

International trademark filing provides brand protection against counterfeiting and unauthorized use during export or import activities. In case of infringement, legal action can be taken to safeguard the brand’s integrity and reputation.

Disadvantages Of the International Registration (IR) System:

  • Dependency on ‘Home’ Filing:

The IR application relies on a ‘home’ filing, which can be a national or European Union Trademark (EUTM) application or registration for clients in the EU. If the ‘home’ filing is abandoned or cancelled within five years from the IR registration date, the international registration will also be automatically cancelled. This is known as a ‘central attack,’ and any cost savings achieved by using the system may be lost if such an attack occurs.

  • Objections on a Country-by-Country Basis:

The WIPO system does not override local trademark laws, which means that third-party objections can be raised in individual countries designated in the IR application. Even if a mark is accepted in the home jurisdiction, it does not guarantee acceptance in each designated country, leading to potential complexities and rejections.

  • Short Response Deadlines:

Deadlines for responding to office actions can be very short, making it challenging to appoint agents and file timely responses. For instance, countries like China may have deadlines of less than two weeks, putting pressure on applicants to meet these tight timelines.

  • Varying Application Processing Times:

The time taken to process IR applications can vary significantly depending on the jurisdiction. While some countries have a relatively quick registration process (around one to two years), others, such as the US and EU, may have significantly longer timescales for processing IR applications.

  • Incomplete Coverage:

The Madrid System does not cover all jurisdictions, leaving certain countries outside the scope of its protection. Applicants must check the list of member countries of both the Madrid Agreement and Madrid Protocol on WIPO’s website to ensure full coverage for their desired jurisdictions.

  • Lack of Updated National Laws:

In some regions, particularly in Africa, national laws have not been updated to recognize the international registration system. This can lead to enforcement issues and complexities when trying to protect trademarks in those countries.

Difference Between Direct Filing in Each Foreign Country and Madrid Protocol:

Direct Filing:

  • Each country has the option of registering a trademark directly within its own jurisdiction.
  • This method involves adhering to different rules and processes specific to each individual country or territory.
  • The trademark application needs to be filed separately in each foreign country, taking into account their respective currency values.
  • The application can be filed in either the domestic language or English, depending on the requirements of each country.

Madrid Protocol:

  • One can register a trademark in several countries through the Madrid system, using a single application.
  • The Madrid Protocol provides a unified and streamlined procedure for international trademark registration, simplifying the process.
  • Government filing fees for each foreign country are paid in a single currency, specifically the Swiss Franc (CHF).
  • The application can be submitted in any one of the three languages: English, French, or Spanish, offering flexibility in language choice.


In conclusion, the choice between direct filing in each foreign country and utilizing the Madrid Protocol for international trademark registration depends on various factors. Direct filing involves submitting separate applications for each country, each with its own rules, processes, and currency considerations. On the other hand, the Madrid Protocol offers a more efficient and cost-effective solution, enabling the registration of a trademark in multiple countries through a single application. Additionally, the Madrid Protocol allows applicants to submit their application in one of three languages, providing flexibility and ease of use.

Ultimately, businesses seeking global trademark protection should carefully assess their needs and resources to determine which method best suits their requirements for brand recognition and legal protection on an international scale.


What is the main difference between direct filing in each foreign country and using the Madrid Protocol for international trademark registration?

The main difference lies in the process and scope of registration. Direct filing requires separate applications for each country, adhering to specific rules and processes in each jurisdiction. In contrast, the Madrid Protocol allows applicants to register their trademark in multiple countries with a single application, streamlining the process and offering a cost-effective and efficient solution.

Can I choose the language for the trademark application when using the Madrid Protocol?

Yes, when utilizing the Madrid Protocol, you have the flexibility to choose the language for your trademark application. You can submit the application in any one of the three languages: English, French, or Spanish.

How are government filing fees handled for international trademark registration under the Madrid Protocol?

The Madrid Protocol simplifies the payment process for government filing fees. All fees for the foreign countries where you seek trademark protection are paid in a single currency, which is the Swiss Franc (CHF). This eliminates the need to deal with multiple currencies and facilitates a more straightforward payment procedure.

King Stubb & Kasiva,
Advocates & Attorneys

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