(Dec. 30, 2008) The Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks, a United Nations-sponsored agreement, will become effective on March 16, 2009. It was adopted by the members of the U.N. World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in March 2006 and is designed to update a 1994 treaty on the subject and make the process of registering and licensing trademarks simpler. The necessary number of ratifications of the treaty was achieved in mid-December when Australia became the tenth country to ratify. (Trademark Owners to Benefit as UN-Backed Treaty Enters into Force Next Year, UN News Centre, Dec. 17, 2008, available at http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?
According to the Director General of WIPO, Francis Gurry, the treaty is good news for trademark owners worldwide as “it opened the way for the branded goods industry to register and manage trademark rights cost-effectively and efficiently,” something of particular value in the current economic climate. (Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks to Enter into Force in 2009, WIPO website, Dec. 17, 2008, available at http://www.wipo.int/pressroom/en/articles/2008/article_0068.html.)
Under the Treaty, procedures for registration and licensing will be standardized and modern communications technologies can be used to process and manage trademark rights efficiently. In addition, the Treaty establishes an Assembly of Contracting Parties that will create a “regulatory framework with a built-in review mechanism that will help ensure that the international legal framework remains attuned to the evolving practical concerns of trademark owners as well as to the needs of developing countries.” (Id.)
The United States deposited its instrument of ratification with the U.N. on October 1, 2008. (UN Intellectual Property Agency Welcomes US Ratification of Key Trademark Pact, UN News Centre, Oct. 1, 2008, available at http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=28384&Cr=Trademarks&Cr1=.). The full text of the Treaty is available on the WIPO website (http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ip/singapore/singapore_treaty.html (last visited Dec. 18, 2008)).