9 October 2017

Indonesia makes the Madrid System a '100 Club'

Last week Indonesia deposited its instrument of accession to the Madrid Protocol and brought the number of contracting parties into triple figures.

It follows hot on the heels of Thailand, which will be available for designation in International applications in less than a month.

The ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries are committed to joining the Madrid Protocol and now eight out of the 10 countries are on board. Brunei, Cambodia and Laos joined up in the last two years leaving Malaysia and Myanmar as the only ASEAN countries not a part of Madrid. Malaysia has undergone consultations and appears to be in the process of taking steps to ready itself to accede.

In Myanmar, the IP world is still waiting for the country to adopt a formal trademark law. Currently, a deposit registration system with a Cautionary Notice publication supports Common Law rights in trademarks. After years of waiting, there are now indications that Myanmar will be opening a new IP Office to operate a formal trademark law. It appears the new law may be a stepping stone towards Madrid membership or, in other words, first of all there will only be a national system for registration but presumably once the Office is up to speed it can look to accede to the Madrid Protocol and have International Registrations designate Myanmar.

There are some concerns on how well Indonesia may manage meeting the strict timelines for examining International applications. It has made a declaration under Article 5(2)(b) of the Protocol to extend the refusal period to 18 months but it could be they still struggle to meet this given an expected increase of applications now it will be easier for foreign parties to simply tick a box to file in Indonesia in an International application. Could this therefore see a backlog in the examination of national applications?

It will be interesting to see how much Indonesian businesses use the Madrid system. Domestic applicants make a lot of trademark applications in their home market. Now they will have easier access to designate most of their ASEAN partners in an International application, Australia, just to the south may also be an attractive market, as well as the powerhouse economies of Asia, Europe and the United States.

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