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Thailand’s accession to the Madrid Protocol: what does it change for brand owners?

The Madrid Protocol is an international treaty establishing a system for the registration of international trademarks.

Thailand finally joined the other ASEAN countries Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam on August 7th, 2017 by becoming the 99th member of the Madrid System. The Protocol will enter into force in Thailand on November 7th, 2017. Ministerial Regulations detailing the registration procedure and costs are expected in the coming months.

Starting from this date, the Madrid System will be accessible to both local and foreign brand owners since Thailand will either act as the Office of Origin (i.e. the country in which the basic national application is filed which will serve as the basis of the international application) or be one of the designated countries in the international application.

Overall, this system is time-efficient due to a simplified and centralized procedure before the Worldwide Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) since brand owners can seek registration of their marks through a single application covering up to 98 countries filed before the WIPO in one language and payment of one set of fees in one currency. This system can also be cost-effective depending on the number of territories designated in the international application.

The main drawback however is the risk of a "central attack": the international registration is linked with, and is dependent on the fate of the basic national mark on which it is based during the first five years after registration. Thus, in case the international registration is based on a Thai application which is finally refused to registration, or if it is based on a Thai registration that is withdrawn, revoked, cancelled or invalidated within these five years, such international registration will be cancelled in all of the designated countries (with the option to convert into national registrations depending on the countries).

It remains to be seen how the DIP will handle the influx of international applications and the challenges of translating the list of goods/services from English into Thai language.

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