What are the advantages/disadvantages of using the Madrid System vs filing a trademark application with an attorney?

Photo of Tomas Orsula

Written by Tomas Orsula

Senior Trademark Attorney

The Madrid System, administered by WIPO, is a convenient solution for registering trademarks worldwide.

The main advantages of the System include:

  • You can easily apply internationally in any member state.
  • You only need one filing.
  • You don't need to locate a legal representative in each country where you wish to file.

However, there are also a few disadvantages to the System:

  • To be able to leverage it, you need to have a prior pending application / registration in the country where the business requesting the trademark is based. This is called a basic mark. This means you can only use the Madrid System for further expansion of your brand, but not for initial filing. The initial application would have to be filed via a local IP office, for example, the USPTO.
  • If the basic mark experiences rejection, withdrawal, or cancellation in the first five years after registration, it will result in the cancellation or limitation of all the designations of the international registration. This is called a "central attack" and is considered the biggest weakness of the System.

Another disadvantage of using the Madrid System might be the price, depending on the number of countries you wish to register your trademark in. If you don't need to apply in more than five countries, it might be cheaper to file your application directly with each local IPO using a law firm.

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