Topics on the agenda of the Working Group included:
- New types of marks and new means of representation
- Findings of the questionnaire on limitations
- Changes to the Regulations to make the language inclusive
- The possible introduction of the Chinese and Russian languages into the system
The meeting was chaired by Steffen Gazley of New Zealand and attended by representatives of contracting parties of the Madrid Union, observer states, BOIP, WTO and several NGOs including MARQUES.
Tove and Jessica highlighted the MARQUES positions on the various issues debated during the meetings, and also held informal negotiations with other participants.
For example, MARQUES has consistently argued for central replacement to provide clarity and a common procedure for users. On transformation, which is viewed as an under-used tool, MARQUES supports the model provisions provided by the Madrid Registry for offices. In particular, MARQUES believes that if designations have already been examined, they should not need to be re-examined.
MARQUES also raised the need to discuss the proposal on trade marks in other scripts, which is something we have worked on for a couple of years. The proposal was put together when it proved impossible to have the requirement for a basic mark abolished. It seeks to make the system more accsesible for brand owners with a home language that is not in Latin characters. This was supported by a contracting party and added back in to the road map for the medium term.
The Working Group was also updated on potential accessions to the Madrid System, as there are more than 15 states considering joining, and on the latest statistics and pendency times. MARQUES welcomes the further expansion of Madrid and will offer support to any states considering accession where that is likely to be helpful.
The WIPO Secretariat discussed communication with offices, and the move towards electronic communication. Faxes are no longer used and all offices are being encouraged to move to the Madrid Office Portal.
The ITMLP Team will review the progress made at the Working Group and consider revising or writing new position papers to present the MARQUES position and advance negotiations on the topics discussed, such as scripts, harmonisation of deadlines, dependency, replacement and limitations.
“Discussion of many of these issues inevitably takes time, but we were pleased to see progress on a number of topics that are important to MARQUES members, notably regarding trade marks in different scripts. We believe that it is very important for brand owners in countries where consumers don’t read Latin script and also to attract more members to the system,” said Tove. Jessica added: “This was my first Madrid Working Group meeting, and it was useful to meet representatives of participating states and explain the MARQUES position to them. We are already looking forward to the meeting next year. The reduction of the dependency period is one of the very interesting topics that will be on the agenda, and we hope to be able to bring it down from five years to two or three years.”
The 17th session of the Working Group is expected to be held in 2019.