Singapore Treaty

The Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks was adopted in Singapore on March 27, 2006. The Singapore Treaty updates the 1994 Trademark Law Treaty (TLT) to adapt to certain business realities. The TLT is designed to harmonize formalities and simplify procedures in the application for, registration and renewal of trademarks by establishing maximum requirements that contracting parties can impose on trademark applicants and holders.

As global trade continues to increase and multinational businesses grow, worldwide trademark protection has become extremely important. In many countries, a trademark registration provides the basis for an owner to enforce trademark rights. Streamlined trademark application and processing procedures make it easier and more efficient to get a registration to substantiate the rights and thus, to take steps to enforce trademark rights in the territory of the contracting parties. The Singapore Treaty maintains the streamlined application formalities of the current TLT but eliminates the TLT provision that required national offices to accept paper applications, allowing national trademark offices to move to an entirely electronic system for trademark application and processing, if desired. This will allow for national trademark offices to take advantage of electronic communication systems as an efficient and cost saving alternative to paper communications.

The Singapore Treaty also addresses burdensome and strict license recordal requirements in some countries that make it difficult for trademark licensors and licensees to enforce trademark rights against third parties. In many cases, failure to record a license results in invalidation of the trademark registration. The Singapore Treaty's license recordal provisions reduce the formalities that trademark owners must face when doing business in a contracting party that requires recordal, and reduce the damaging effects that can result from failure to record a license in those jurisdictions.

The Singapore Treaty contains a new provision addressing relief measures for failure to comply with time limits, requiring contracting parties to provide for at least one type of relief measure for trademark applicants that fail to comply with specific time limits during the trademark application process. This relief can take the form of:

1) extension of time to comply;

2) continued processing; or

3) reinstatement of rights.

Additionally, the Singapore Treaty's Assembly provisions will allow the regulations to be amended to better reflect improvements in trademark operation practices that will benefit U.S. trademark owners filing applications abroad. The Assembly provisions create a more attractive treaty for WIPO Member States since the Assembly can discuss matters relating to the regulations governing implementation of the treaty.