The Madrid System Turns 125

Author:Sara Amini
Position::Madrid Registry, WIPO

In April 2016, WIPO’s Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks turned 125. Thanks to the vision of policymakers in the late 19th century, today it is relatively straightforward and cost-effective to register and protect trademarks in key markets around the world.


The growth of the Madrid System is a story of international cooperation and aspirations for cross-border trade expansion. As such, it is very much a story of our time. Companies 125 years ago sought to trade with their foreign partners, and the fortunes of businesses today largely hinge on their ability to tap new markets, and stand out against their competitors confident that their trademarks can be protected.

The Madrid System is built around two treaties: the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks of 1891 and the Protocol to that Agreement of 1989, which introduced new features and flexibilities that have enabled the System’s global expansion.

The Madrid System makes trademark portfolio management simple. By filing one international application through their national trademark office in one language, and paying fees in one currency, applicants can obtain protection in multiple export markets. Subsequent management of trademark rights is also centralized and easy.

In response to growing demand for trademark rights – they are an indispensable business tool, inspiring customer loyalty and driving business value – the Madrid System has become a central pillar of the international trademark regime. Thousands of businesses large and small from across the commercial spectrum have used and continue to use the Madrid System to protect their marks in global markets. Well over a million marks have been registered under the System. Some 630,000 of these – many of them household names – are still active. In 2015, a record 49,273 new international trademark applications were filed under the System.

The oldest internationally registered mark that is still active is held by Swiss watchmaker Longines. It was first registered in 1893. Just last year, the 1.25 millionth international trademark registration, for Micromax, was filed by the Indian cell phone maker of the same name, highlighting the expanding global interest in international trademark protection.

By the end of July...

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