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The Madrid system for the international registration of marks provides trademark owners with the opportunity to apply and maintain protection for their trademarks in several member countries (see the list of countries here) at one time by simply filing one application, in one language (English, French or Spanish), and paying one set of fees. The Madrid system is founded on the requirement that an international application must be based on a national trademark application (basic application) or registration (basic registration).
The International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) registers trademarks internationally, however, the international trademark application itself is filed through the national patent office which examines it as to formalities and transmits to WIPO.
WIPO conducts only a formal examination of the international application for registration of a trademark, and if the application complies with the applicable formal requirements, it registers the trademark and sends a certificate of international registration to the trademark owner, which contains details recorded in the International Register. WIPO then notifies the Patent Offices of the countries designated in the international application.
In the course of 12 months (under the Madrid Agreement) or 18 months (under the Madrid Protocol) from the date of notification the national patent offices examine the trademark, and depending upon the results of the examination decides either to grant or refuse protection to an international registration. The refusal of protection includes the grounds for refusal, and also the time limit within which the applicant may object the refusal of protection.
The Madrid system permits to add additional countries to the existing international trademark registration (territorial extension).
The international registration is valid for ten years starting from the date of the international registration and can be renewed indefinitely, 10 years at a time for each renewal.
The principle of «central attack». For a period of five years from the date of its registration, an international registration remains dependent on the mark registered (basic registration) or applied for (basic application) in the national patent office. If the basic application or registration ceases to have effect, totally or partially, whether through cancellation, withdrawal or invalidation within this five-year period, the international registration will also cease to have effect either totally or partially.