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December 15, 2018 Vol. 73 No. 21 Back to Bulletin Main Page

Committee Spotlight: Harmonization of Trademark Law and Practice Committee

A key pillar of INTA’s 2018–2021 Strategic Plan is to promote the value of trademarks and brands. An objective under this pillar is the harmonization of laws and convergence of practices, through which INTA will facilitate best practices and serve as well as a platform for exchange of ideas and solutions to ensure a more consistent and certain legal environment. As noted by Andreas Ebert-Weidenfeller (Meissner Bolte Partnerschaft m.b.B., Germany) and Winnie Tham (Amica Law LLC, Singapore), chair and vice-chair, respectively, of the Harmonization of Trademark Law and Practice Committee (HTMLPC), the “harmonization of laws and practices are vital in providing better and more efficient access to trademark and IP rights protection, and to provide a more consistent and certain legal environment.”

One of the Committee's main objectives of this term is to evaluate efforts on national, regional, and international levels to harmonize trademark law and practice through treaties, trade agreements, special conventions, and other instruments. Drafting proposals for trademark law and treaty language, in particular by means of model guidelines, and advocating the same to relevant government officials, are also important goals for the Committee, as well as monitoring developments and participating actively in multinational efforts to harmonize law and standards.

The HTMLPC is divided into three subcommittees: International Classification, International Cooperation, and Free Trade Agreements (FTA).

The FTA Subcommittee is working on updating a model FTA and producing a status report of global FTAs, according to Mr. Ebert.

A key goal for the International Classification Subcommittee is to publish an article on guidelines on International Classification, which will set out considerations regarding identification of goods and services in an international trademark filing program. An important part of the work of this Subcommittee is its engagement with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO); the Subcommittee has provided comments on various WIPO projects, including amendments to the International Classification, which are considered each year by the WIPO Committee of Experts of the Nice Union, and on the Vienna Classification, Ms. Tham explained.

The International Classification and International Cooperation Subcommittees are also reviewing the ASEAN IPR Action Plan from a harmonization perspective and the feasibility of the ASEAN common filing system, while also investigating international use requirements, the treatment of .com trademarks, and inconsistencies in the implementing regulations of Madrid Protocol applications.

The HTMLPC is very active and works in conjunction with other committees on projects, such as the Trademark Office Practices and Anticounterfeiting Committees.

Finally, Ms. Tham and Mr. Ebert encourage Regular INTA members to participate in the surveys and questionnaires that the committee prepares from time to time. The data is then analyzed and studied, and used to form the basis of important questionnaires that the Committee prepares from time to time.

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of items in the INTA Bulletin, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest. Law & Practice updates are published without comment from INTA except where it has taken an official position. 

© 2018 International Trademark Association