7.2.1 What are International Regulations for IP protection?

International protection regulations significantly simplify the process for simultaneously seeking IP protection in a large number of countries. Rather than filing national applications in many languages, the systems of international protection enable you to file a single application, in one language, and to pay one application fee. These international filing systems not only facilitate the process but also, in the case of marks and industrial designs, considerably reduce your costs for obtaining international protection (the PCT (patent cooperation treaty) help as it gives companies time to assess the commercial value of your invention before national fees are to be paid in the national phase). International protection regulations include three different mechanisms of protection for specific industrial property rights:1

  • International protection of inventions is provided under the PCT system, the worldwide system for simplified multiple filing of patent applications. By filing one international patent application under the PCT, you actually apply for protection of an invention in each of a large number of member countries (now more than one hundred) throughout the world.
  • International protection of trademarks is provided under the “<Madrid system.” The Madrid system simplifies greatly the procedures for registering a trademark in multiple countries that are party to the Madrid system. An international registration under the Madrid system produces the same effects as an application for registration of the mark filed in each of the countries designated by the applicant and, unless rejected by the office of a designated country within a certain period, has the same effect in that country as a registration in the Trademark Registry of that country. </li>
  • International protection of industrial designs is provided by the Hague Agreement. This system gives the owner of an industrial design the possibility to have his design protected in several countries by simply filing one application with the International Bureau of WIPO, in one language, with one set of fees in one currency.2

International Classifications

Anyone applying for a patent or registering a trademark or design, whether at the national or international level, is required to determine whether their creation is new or is owned or claimed by someone else. To determine this, huge amounts of information must be searched.
According to World Intellectual Property Organization there are up to four international classifications, which are used worldwide.3 

  • International Patent Classification (IPC): established by the Strasbourg Agreement (1971), provides for a hierarchical system of language independent symbols for the classification of patents and utility models according to the different areas of technology to which they pertain.
  • Nice Classification consists of a classification of goods and services for the purposes of registering trademarks and service marks.
  • Locarno Classification consists of a classification for industrial designs.
  • Vienna Classification provides symbols for marks which consist of or contain figurative elements.4

The World Intellectual Property Organization administers these treaties.


1 InnoSupport: Supporting Innovations in SME. 7.2 International Regulations. 2005
2 lbid
3 www.wipo.int/classifications/en/
4 lbid