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Mumbai: India joined the international trademark registration treaty, the Madrid Protocol, in 2013 and detailed guidelines were released by the country’s intellectual property office in December. The new system allows Indian brand owners to register their trademarks in the international markets and foreign ones to do so in India through a single application and fee, aligning the process with the global trademark regime. The International Trademark Association (INTA), a global lobby group that represents some 6,400 corporate and 29,000 individual brand owners and legal professionals from at least 190 countries, suggests that India must increase resources to keep pace with global practices. In an interview, INTA’s chief executive officer Etienne Sanz de Acedo, who was in India to meet officials at the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP) and the Trade Marks Registry this week, spoke about the critical issues that India should address in the transformation phase. Edited excerpts:

What are your impressions about India’s preparedness to adapt to the Madrid Protocol?

India is one of the leading trademark registries in the world at present in terms of number of applications as well as the pace of economic growth in the country. Its trademark legislation is also quite robust and the country joining Madrid protocol itself is a very important and positive move. But this office, which receives as many as 180,000 applications a year, also has a huge backlog and that needs to be processed as fast as possible. Fortunately, what we understood from our meetings with the officials at the Indian Trademark Registry in Mumbai in the last few days is that it has already moved to the electronic system to receive and process the applications, and hopefully the backlogs would be cleared at the earliest. Overall, we are quite satisfied with most of the local registry’s recent initiatives such as the modernized application processing, understanding the requirements of users and taking feedback from them for betterment of services, among others.

What are your key suggestions for improvement?

India’s trademark registry, as a member of the Madrid treaty, has two key roles to play now. First, as an office of origin, it will receive international applications filed from within the country and it needs to verify such applications in conformity with the provisions of the treaty for certifying and transmitting them to the international bureau of the World Intellectual Property Office (Wipo) in Geneva. Secondly, as an office of the designated contracting party, it will be notified about the international registrations in which India has been designated. The Indian office needs to record the particulars of such international registrations as well as examine it in accordance with the provisions of the country’s trademarks law. As we know, it has already received some 3,500 applications through the Madrid system.

So, for any new offices joining the Madrid Protocol, this is not an easy task unless they upgrade and modernize their system. Our suggestion, which is a kind of request to the officials here, is to put more resources including people, trained trademark examiners and more advanced systems and processes, to make the registrations faster and more efficient to keep pace with the global registries. Meeting the application-processing deadline of 18 months as per the new system is a crucial issue that the Indian office needs to address. The local registry should also provide better support to the judiciary system in the country for better enforcement of brand protection law and to make faster decisions on related cases.

As an international lobby that represents brand owners and trademark professionals from around the world, what are the key activities of INTA and how helpful is your organization for a brand owner?

INTA as a global trademark association has been very keenly supporting its members, both current and potential members, on brand protection over the years. And we certainly work much for the encouragement of trademarks that includes supporting the global treaties like the Madrid Protocol and the Hague Agreement concerning the international registration of industrial designs, etc. It is also helping brand owners from different countries who are looking for registering trademarks in their own country and the international markets with the support on various legislation, practices and experiences in each of the countries. For example, helping the Indian corporations which are keen to register their marks and export their products and services in other global markets by providing them the support of best practices that the other organizations have gone through over a period, and also providing the support of an extensive network of contacts of our global members for dealing with the related matters. As an agency representing a large number of organizations, brand owners and other stakeholders, INTA can also influence development of trademark legislation within different countries.

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