International trademark: Gambia joins the Madrid Protocol effective December 18, 2015

On September 18, 2015, the Republic of Gambia joined the Protocol relating to the Madrid Agreement concerning the international registration of trademarks (known as the Madrid Protocol). The country thus has become the 96th member to join the Madrid system.

It is to be noted that the Madrid system makes it possible for applicants to simultaneously protect their trademarks in the 112 territories, which represents more than 80% of the world’s trade.

This system thus simplifies the protection of trademarks by streamlining the registration process on an international level as it makes it possible for holders of a trademark to submit an application for registration in a large number of countries, by filing a single document, in only one language (French, English or Spanish) and by paying only one set of fees.

The relevant treaty will enter into force on December 18, 2015. Trademark owners will then be able to include the Republic of Gambia when registering an international trademark and will be able to therefore extend their existing international registrations to Gambia.

On October 6, 2015, the government of the Republic of Gambia notified the Director of the World Intellectual Property Organization of specific measures to be put into place in virtue of article 5(2)(b) and 8(7)(a) of the Protocol.

Thus it was stated that the deadline of one year for raising a provisional refusal of protection is to be replaced by a delay of 18 months. A provisional refusal based on an objection can be raised however even after the 18 month period.

The government also requested to be able to receive an individual fee, in the event that the Republic of Gambia is designated under an international filing application and where the designation is related to a prior international registration or international renewal.

These measures will come into force in the Republic of Gambia on the January 6, 2016.

The Madrid system has many advantages to offer trademark owners and the number of members increases every year. However, certain countries, including Canada, have still not joined the system.

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