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Thursday, 27 November 2003


A WIPO press release says its Member States have made some progress towards revision of the Trademark Law Treaty (TLT) following a meeting in Geneva last week of the WIPO Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications (SCT). This meeting was attended by 79 member states, three intergovernmental organisations and 10 non-governmental organisations, Discussions focused on the revision of the TLT, which was concluded in 1994 with a view to streamlining and simplifying formal trade mark procedures relating to national and regional trade mark applications and the maintenance of trade marks. The TLT currently has 31 member countries. Applicants seeking trade mark protection must meet certain formality requirements in order to avoid rejection of their application. These formalities currently vary from one country to another. The proposed TLT revision includes provisions on electronic filing of trade mark applications and associated communications and the introduction of relief measures when certain time limits have been missed, A Diplomatic Conference to consider the revision of the TLT may be held as early as 2005 (a decision on this is expected at the next meeting of the SCT in April 2004).

The SCT approved the proposal on communications which envisages that "any Contracting Party may choose the means of transmittal of communications". This means that national trade mark offices may choose whether to accept filings on paper only, by electronic means only, or both on paper and by electronic means. It also agreed to simplify requirements regarding the language of communications. Although the treaty mentions the principle according to which no Contracting Party may require the attestation, notarisation, authentication, legalisation or any other certification of any signature in a communication, offices which receive communications in more than one language may require a translation by an official translator or a representative. Proposals on signatures adressed recent developments such as the increasing acceptance by Offices of electronic signatures or other types of identification. Contracting Parties will still be free to require the original paper copy of any electronic communication within a reasonable period of time. The SCT also largely approved a provision on measures in case of failure to comply with time limits. The provision requires Contracting Parties to provide at least for one of three types of relief: (i) extension of the time limit, (ii) continued processing or (iii) reinstatement of rights.

Although the IPKat likes to play with a ball of string occasionally, he disapproves of all forms of red tape and regrets the fact that so many national offices have for so long been reluctant to adopt more streamlined and user-friendly systems for dealing with trade mark applications.

Red tape here, here, here, here and here
Cut red tape here and here

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