17 November 2015

The Gambia joins the Madrid Protocol

The Gambia will become the next member of the Madrid Protocol when it joins up on 18 December 2015.

African membership of the Madrid System continues to grow, although being the smallest country on the mainland of Africa, the addition of the Gambia will not make a significant impact on the worldwide Madrid System map.

Furthermore, although a lot of African countries are now members of the Madrid System, not all of these have made local legislative amendments to reflect Madrid membership and the enforceability of International Registrations is highly questionable.

This does not appear to be the case for the Gambia though, which has a relatively modern trademark law.

The Gambia has previously been infamous for its significant delays caused most notably by an enormous backlog in printing Trademark Journals. However, in recent times it has made tremendous efforts to get applications advertised and made significant inroads into its backlog.

Nonetheless, resources are at a premium at the Gambian Registry and an increase in filings caused by Madrid designations may push the Registry's capabilities even more. Of course, if you designate via Madrid and do not get a refusal in the designated time then you have an assumed registration (although this does not necessarily rule out a future challenge). Covering the Gambia through a Madrid designation will be an attractive option to many.

When it comes to Provisional Refusals, the Gambia has made a declaration under Rule 17(5)(e). Such ex officio Provisional Refusals can only be contested "before an authority external to the said Office" e.g. a tribunal or court.

The Gambia joins only China and Madagascar in making such a declaration. In practice, even if the Gambian Registry can cope with examining all its International designations in the required timescale, examination can be sketchy and it's not anticipated that the Registry will be issuing rafts of Provisional Refusals, probably very few.