SL’s ability to benefit from Madrid Protocol hobbled by local delays | Daily News


SL’s ability to benefit from Madrid Protocol hobbled by local delays

 Sri Lanka’s ability to benefit from the Madrid Protocol is hobbled by the delays in local trademark registration,Verite Research said.

Despite the significant growth in resident trademark applications during the last decade, the number of trademarks registered a year have stagnated,” Verite Research Executive Director Nishan de Mel said in Colombo yesterday.

“Sri Lankan businesses go through a lengthy and costly process to register their trademarks abroad. As a solution, the Government of Sri Lanka decided to join the Madrid Protocol. This is a centralised global system that simplifies the process Sri Lankan businesses go through when registering trademarks abroad.”

“Registering trademarks at home is an important first step for a company that seeks to register its trademarks abroad. Therefore, to get the full benefits of accession to the Madrid Protocol, Sri Lanka needs to first take measures to address the problems within the local trademark registration system,” de Mel said.

“Verite Research found that the National Intellectual Property Office (NIPO) of Sri Lanka takes around 3 to 5 years to process trademark applications. The widening gap between local trademark applications and registrations significantly limits the country’s ability to benefit from the Madrid Protocol,” he said.

“Registering has a big demand and since the demand from 1995 was 2000, today it has passed the 6000 mark, it has grown three times,” he said.

“Further, Sri Lanka fairs poorly compared to other middle income countries like Philippines, Bulgaria and Vietnam. The number of local trademarks registered as a percentage of applications a year was over 50% in these countries prior to their accession to the Madrid Protocol, whereas in Sri Lanka it is as low as 14%,” he said.

“The requirement the Madrid Protocol imposes on Sri Lanka in return for its benefit is simple. That is, to demonstrate its ability to process foreign trademark applications within a short, fixed period of one and a half years.

However, the benefits Sri Lanka can gain from the Madrid Protocol is severely undermined by the slow process of trademark registration in Colombo.”

In the 2016 budget, the government allocated Rs.100 million to speed up accession to the Madrid Protocol. This was a positive response to a longstanding request made by Sri Lankan exporters. It will assist and encourage Sri Lankan exporters to invest in branding and trademarks in their market strategy and growth.

The Madrid Protocol is a centralised, global system for registering and maintaining trademarks in foreign countries. It is administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

There are two constituencies that directly benefit through Sri Lanka’s accession to the Madrid Protocol.

The first are international companies in Madrid member countries that are keen to supply to Sri Lanka but have not yet registered their trademark in Sri Lanka.

Accession to the Madrid Protocol will enable Sri Lankan exporters to develop their product and brand with confidence, knowing that the investment in consumer confidence is duly protected. This is the long term also encourages them to develop and sell products under their own trademarks/brand names in export markets, rather than being invisible to customers and remaining a supplier to bands/trademarks owned by others. 

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