India on Monday joined the Madrid Protocol which will enable domestic companies and entrepreneurs to obtain cost effective global trademark registration.

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, who is in Geneva said: “We recognise that this instrument will provide an opportunity for Indian companies, which are increasing their global footprint, to register trademarks in member countries of the Protocol through a single application, while also allowing foreign companies a similar dispensation.”

Mr. Sharma is at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Headquarters for a High Level Policy Dialogue.

The treaty will enter into force with respect to India on July 8, 2013 according to the WIPO statement.

It said that Sharma on Monday deposited his country’s instrument of accession to the Madrid Protocol for the International Registration of Marks at WIPO, bringing the total number of members of the international trademark system to 90.

The Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks offers trademark owners a cost effective, user friendly and streamlined means of protecting and managing their trademark portfolio internationally.

Welcoming India’s accession, WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said that New Delhi’s participation in the Madrid system gives brand owners around the world the ability to extend their protection to the important Indian market, through a single, simplified and cost-effective procedure.

It said that India is the 14th of the G-20 economies to accede to the Madrid Protocol.

“India’s accession to the international trademark system, as with the recent accessions by Colombia, Mexico, New Zealand and Philippines, signals an era of significant geographical expansion of the Madrid system, which offers greater benefit to right holders worldwide,” Mr. Gurry added.

It said that 2012 saw the highest number of international trademark applications ever filed under the Madrid system, with 44,018 applications.

Under the WIPO-administered Madrid system, a trademark owner may protect a mark in up to 88 countries plus the European Union by filing one application, in one language (English, French or Spanish), with one set of fees, in one currency (Swiss Francs).

Trademarks are a key component of any successful business marketing strategy as they allow companies to identify, promote and license their goods or services in the marketplace and to distinguish them from those of their competitors, and cement customer loyalty.

A trademark symbolises the promise of a quality product and in today’s global and increasingly electronic marketplace, a trademark is often the only way for customers to identify a company’s products and services.

The international trademark system is governed by two treaties, namely, the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks (1891) and the Madrid Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks (1989).

Meanwhile, a Commerce and Industry Ministry statement said Mr. Sharma in Geneva has defended the flexibilities provided under the WTO for developing countries in honouring their intellectual property commitments to meet their social challenges.

Mr. Sharma said the developing countries which bear a disproportionate burden of poverty, hunger and disease for historical reasons have an aspiration to provide affordable healthcare solutions for their citizens.

Quoting Mr. Sharma, the ministry statement said: “It is my belief that while all countries are obligated to honour their international commitments, inherent flexibilities must be provided to developing countries to address these pressing social challenges“.

The minister said that India always strikes a balance between the interests of the IP creators and the larger interests of the IP users.

“It fosters technological innovation by providing inherent incentives through exclusive private IPRs, but also recognises the need to protect the interest of users’ rights,” he said.

Further, the minister raised the issue of the intellectual property rights (IPRs) associated with genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore such as curative aspects of neem and haldi.

“India has been at the forefront for bringing this agenda on the negotiating table and for the last one decade, we have been trying to build a consensus for a binding treaty on traditional knowledge. I hope that WIPO shall be able to bring these negotiations to culmination,” he said.

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