International trademarks are governed by two international agreements (the Madrid Agreement and the Madrid Protocol), which aim to simplify the administrative process involved in the protection of trademarks overseas. Each individual country for which the applicant seeks protection will evaluate the application independently and separately, according to its own national legislation.
International trademarks provide clear economic benefits, and a degree of protection on a par with national protection.
An international registration may be extended at any time to one or more of the other member states of the Madrid Agreement and/or Protocol.
Upon renewal, an international trademark is regarded as a single trademark.
The application for an international trademark must be based on an existing, national trademark known as a “basic trademark“, to which it must be identical, identifying the same product and/or service categories it protects.
Such dependancy of the international trademark on the one registered in the country of origin lasts for a period of five years, during which time, if the basic trademark has lapsed, the international trademark will also become invalid, an effect known as “central attack”.
The European Union adhered to the Madrid Protocol on 1 October 2004, making it possible for basic trademarks to also take the form of a Community trademark. Therefore, an application for the registration of a Community trademark or an already registered Community trademark may be used as a basis for international applications.
It is also possible to designate the European Union in an international application.