Madrid Protocol to safeguard trademarks, brands in Brunei
| Danial Norjidi |
ACCESSION to the Madrid Protocol will provide protection for local businesses on their trademarks and brands whilst further spurring economic development through foreign direct investments in the country knowing that their brand is well protected.
This was revealed by Denis Croze, and Louis Chan, who spoke to the Bulletin yesterday following the Asean-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA)-World Intellectual Property Organi-sation (WIPO) Regional Consultation Seminar on Accession to the Madrid Protocol at The Empire Hotel and Country Club.
Also attending the seminar yesterday was Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Muta-Wakkilah Hayatul Bolkiah.
The Madrid Protocol is the primary international system for facilitating the registration of trademarks in multiple jurisdictions worldwide.
Accession to the protocol relating to the Madrid Agreement is one of the initiatives agreed to be undertaken by seven Asean member states as part of the Asean Intellectual Property Action Plan 2011-2015.
Mr Croze, the Director of the WIPO’s Singapore Office, said that Brunei could benefit greatly from the accession.
“When good protection, good legislation and good conditions for businesses are offered, you are not only allowing businesses to develop at an international level but also foreign countries to invest in your country.
“Beyond the region, it allows countries like Australia and the United States to invest in your country. That contributes towards improving the economic development in Brunei. The Madrid System is a business tool for business people.
“It is very business-oriented because the protocol is very easy, quick, efficient and cost-effective, which is vital. Business people like it hence more and more countries are joining,” he said.
All these elements, he emphasised, allow local businesses to protect their interests and trademarks in the region and abroad with trading partners and other big companies or even SMEs wanting to invest or develop in Brunei.
“All these double elements, from inside to outside, inbound to outbound, will contribute to the economic development of the country.”
Moving on, he underlined, “WIPO is providing technical assistances and training trademark officers at the IP registrar but also the patent and trademark attorneys, lawyers and the entrepreneurs to make them aware of the advantages of the system.
“We are providing all that and depending on Brunei’s request, it is possible to help them adjust. I believe that a lot of good progress has been made on the accession process, hence we are quite optimistic to have Brunei as a member very soon,” he added.
Louis Chan, a Legal Counsel for Asian Brand Equity, was one of the speakers at the seminar. He highlighted that Brunei’s accession to the Madrid Protocol would prove very beneficial for the country.
“It would be easier for brand owners outside Brunei to obtain protection. It would also be faster and cheaper. This would then encourage more commercial activities in your country.
“It is mutual. It is both ways. It will, of course, also assist companies in Brunei to obtain protection outside the Sultanate. Likewise, third parties abroad will also find it easier to gain protection.”
He then recounted his interaction with Bhutan’s intellectual property office, saying that few people filed patents or trademarks there. However, after the country became a member, the number of applications actually increased.
Asked for his thoughts on the obstacles Brunei faces towards its accession, he said, “I think the Madrid System, though widely promoted, still remains a little hazy for many potential users, so definitely more education and hand-holding is required for users within Brunei to actually fully exploit the benefits of the system.
“It is a guarantee that third parties who seek to gain trademark registration within Brunei will acquire rights swiftly, efficiently and within a reasonable period of time because under the system, there is a time limit for them to respond.
“I think Brunei is forward-looking and from my interaction with the officials, they are enthusiastic towards modernising the system to international standards,” he concluded.