"Sign of the Times": Madrid update
The first session this morning in this year's MARQUES conference, "Sign of the Times", was opened by Adrian Smith (Simmons & Simmons LLP) in the chair. Adrian introduced Asta Valdimarsdóttir (head of WIPO's Operations Service, International Registries of Madrid and Lisbon, Brands and Designs Sector), who gave a fascinating account of how changes in Madrid's language regime -- from French only, through French and English to the addition of Spanish -- has influenced WIPO's Madrid System workload. While the system is still Eurocentric, the proportion of European designations is declining and can soon be expected to fall below 50%, a sure sign of the increasing internationalisation of the system's use.

Asta spoke warmly of the increased volume of Madrid filings, with trade mark applications up 6.5% in 2011 over the 2010 figure, this increase being accompanied by more designations. 76% of applications are in English. 22% in French and 2% in Spanish. This has an operational impact, in that WIPO has to translate some 16 million words a year.

Asta next turned her attention to WIPO's new operating structure for processing Madrid applications, both in terms of WIPO's objectives and in regard to its functionality. Administratively, the building of teams based on geographical regions is seen as a means of increasing efficiency and building shared expertise. So far, she said, the team scheme has worked very well. Turning to irregularities, the figure is very high. The rate for classification irregularities is a startling 23%, a figure which would come down if more use was made of WIPO's online classification tool. Closer cooperation with member states and users is also a good idea.  The rate of refusals is also high, around 22% (provisional refusals for US applications are over 94%, though ultimately only around 21% are refused). 

What challenges does Madrid face? Geographical expansion of the system is bound to have implications in terms of language, if nothing else.  The current 88 member states can be expected to rise and, with the possible addition of further languages, it may be asked whether as much will be translated as is at present. This in turn suggests a need to simplify the system and to modify WIPO's internal practice -- much of which can be done without the need to change the Madrid Rules. The more radical the change, the more political support will be needed for it. Asta's conclusion: "In a nutshell -- we have to simplify".

Posted by: Blog Administrator @ 07.47

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