International IP treaties

Patent treaties

Budapest Treaty 

The Budapest Treaty eliminates the need to deposit microorganisms in each country where patent protection is sought. Under the treaty, the deposit of a microorganism with an "international depositary authority" satisfies the deposit requirements of treaty members' national patent laws. An "international depositary authority" is capable of storing biological material and has established procedures that assure compliance with the Budapest Treaty. Such procedures include requirements that the deposit will remain available for the life of the patent and that samples will be furnished only to those persons or entities entitled to receive them.

Hague Agreement

The Hague Agreement is an international registration system which offers the possibility of obtaining protection for up to 100 industrial designs in designated member countries and intergovernmental organizations (referred to as "Contracting Parties") by filing a single international application in a single language, either directly with the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) or indirectly through the office of the applicant's Contracting Party.

Patent Cooperation Treaty

Under this WIPO-administered treaty, nationals or residents of a contracting state file a single patent application, called an "international" application, with their national patent office or with WIPO as a receiving office. This automatically lodges the application for patent protection in all contracting parties of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). By simplifying patent application filing, the PCT assists innovators in obtaining patent protection throughout the world. It also encourages small businesses and individuals to seek patent protection abroad.

Patent Law Treaty

The Patent Law Treaty (PLT) harmonizes and streamlines formal procedures in respect of national and regional patents and patent applications, making the procedures and the global patent system more user friendly. To do so, the provisions of the PLT set forth a maximum set of requirements a party to the treaty may apply. It does not, however, harmonize substantive patent law. Rather, it makes it easier for patent applicants and patent owners to obtain and maintain patents throughout the world by simplifying and, to a significant degree, aligning formal requirements associated with patent applications and patents among global patent offices and jurisdictions.


The International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, or UPOV Convention, was adopted on December 2, 1961, following a diplomatic conference held in Paris, France. The UPOV Convention is administered by the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), an intergovernmental organization with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The mission of UPOV is to provide and promote an effective system of plant variety protection, with the aim of encouraging the development of new varieties of plants, for the benefit of society.

Trademark treaties

Trademark Law Treaty

The Trademark Law Treaty simplifies and harmonizes trademark application and registration procedures by member states. It facilitates renewals, the recordation of assignments, name and address changes, and powers of attorney. 

Singapore Law Treaty

The Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademark modernizes the international trademark system by expanding protectable subject matter to include nontraditional marks, such as sensory marks, color, position, and movement marks, among others. 

Madrid Protocol

The Madrid Protocol is a filing or procedural treaty, not a substantive harmonization treaty. It was designed to provide a cost-effective, efficient, and centralized way for trademark owners—individuals and businesses—to obtain protection for their marks in multiple countries by filing one international application with the applicant’s office of origin, in one language, with one set of fees, in one currency. Learn about the Madrid Protocol registration process.

Trade-related treaties and agreements


The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) came into force in 1995, as part of the Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization (WTO). TRIPS applies basic international trade principles to member states regarding intellectual property, including national treatment and most-favored-nation treatment. TRIPS establishes minimum standards for the availability, scope, and use of seven forms of intellectual property: copyrights, trademarks, geographical indications, industrial designs, patents, layout designs for integrated circuits, and undisclosed information (trade secrets). It spells out permissible limitations and exceptions in order to balance the interests of intellectual property with interests in other areas, such as public health and economic development. For the complete text of the TRIPS Agreement, as well as an explanation of its provisions, see the WTO website.

Other IP treaties

Berne Convention

The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, adopted in 1886, is the world’s oldest multilateral copyright convention. The treaty contains a series of substantive provisions that set forth the minimum protection to be granted to authors and their copyrighted works (e.g, it sets forth certain minimum exclusive rights that must be provided and a minimum term of protection). The Convention is based on the important principles of national treatment (which requires each Berne member to treat nationals of other members at least as well as it treats its own nationals) and “automatic” protection (i.e., copyright protection outside the country of origin must not be conditioned upon compliance with any legal formalities such as a registration system).