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Issue 46 | January 27, 2003
A Brief Summary of the WIPO Treaties
 The following is a brief summary of the multi-lateral intellectual property treaties that have been put forth by the World Intellectual Property Organization. It is interesting to note that many of them have far less contracting parties than the 164 parties to the Paris Convention. It is also important to keep in mind that most of these treaties are not self-implementing in the U.S., even if they have been ratified by the Senate. Consequently, although many of these treaties are binding law in other countries, the treaties themselves are generally not controlling precedent for U.S. courts until implementing legislation is enacted.

WIPO Convention

The Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization was signed at Stockholm on July 14, 1967, and entered into force in 1970. WIPO is responsible for the promotion of the protection of intellectual property throughout the world through cooperation among states, and for the administration of various multilateral treaties dealing with the legal and administrative aspects of intellectual property.

The total number of member states of WIPO on December 31, 2002, was 179.

Paris Convention

The Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property was concluded in 1883 and is one of the pillars of the international intellectual property system. It applies to industrial property in the widest sense, including inventions, marks, industrial designs, utility models (a kind of "small patent" provided for by the laws of some countries), trade names (designations under which an industrial or commercial activity is carried on), geographical indications (indications of source and appellations of origin) and the repression of unfair competition.

The total number of contracting states on December 31, 2002, was 164.

Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)

The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) was concluded in 1970. The PCT makes it possible to seek patent protection for an invention simultaneously in each of a large number of countries by filing an "international" patent application. Such an application may be filed by anyone who is a national or resident of a contracting state. The Treaty regulates the formal requirements with which any international application must comply.

The total number of contracting states on December 31, 2002, was 118.

Madrid Agreement and Madrid Protocol

The Madrid system for the International Registration of Marks (the Madrid system) is governed by two treaties: the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks (Madrid Agreement) and the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks (Madrid Protocol).

The Madrid Agreement was concluded in 1891, and the Madrid Protocol was concluded in 1989 in order to introduce certain new features into the Madrid system. These features address the difficulties that prevent certain countries from adhering to the Madrid Agreement by rendering the system more flexible and more compatible with the domestic legislation of these countries.

The total number of contracting states to the Madrid Protocol on December 31, 2002, was 56.

Trademark Law Treaty (TLT)

The Trademark Law Treaty was concluded in 1994. The TLT aims to make national and regional trademark registration systems more user-friendly through the simplification and harmonization of procedures.

The total number of contracting states on December 31, 2002, was 31.

Nice Agreement

The Nice Agreement Concerning the International Classification of Goods and Services for the Purposes of the Registration of Marks was concluded in 1957. The Nice Agreement establishes a classification of goods and services for the purposes of registering trademarks and service marks. The Classification consists of a list of classes (based on types of products and services) of which there are 34 for goods and 11 for services and an alphabetical list of the goods and services.

The total number of contracting states on December 31, 2002, was 70.

Locarno Agreement

The Locarno Agreement Establishing an International Classification for Industrial Designs was concluded in 1968. The Locarno Agreement establishes a classification for industrial designs which consists of 32 classes and 223 subclasses based on different types of products. It also comprises an alphabetical list of goods with an indication of the classes and subclasses into which these goods fall. The list contains some 6,600 indications of different kinds of goods.

The total number of contracting states on December 31, 2002, was 41.

Strasbourg Agreement (IPC)

The Strasbourg Agreement Concerning the International Patent Classification was concluded in 1971. The Strasbourg Agreement establishes the International Patent Classification (IPC), which divides technology into 8 sections with approximately 69,000 subdivisions. Each of these subdivisions has a symbol which is allotted by the national or regional industrial property office that publishes the patent document.

The total number of contracting states on December 31, 2002, was 53.

Budapest Treaty

The Budapest Treaty on the International Recognition of the Deposit of Microorganisms for the Purposes of Patent Procedure was concluded in 1977. The main feature of the Budapest Treaty is that a contracting state which allows or requires the deposit of microorganisms for the purposes of patent procedure must recognize, for such purposes, the deposit of a microorganism with any "international depositary authority," irrespective of whether such authority is on or outside the territory of the said state. This eliminates the need to deposit in each country in which protection is sought.

The total number of contracting states on December 31, 2002, was 55.

Nairobi Treaty

The Nairobi Treaty on the Protection of the Olympic Symbol was concluded in 1981. All contracting states are obliged to protect the Olympic symbol (the five interlaced rings) against use for commercial purposes (in advertisements, on goods, as a mark, etc.) without the authorization of the International Olympic Committee.

The total number of contracting states on December 31, 2002, was 41.

Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement

The Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs was concluded in 1999. The Act is aimed at making the system more responsive to the needs of users and facilitating adherence by countries whose industrial designs systems do not permit them to accede to the 1960 Hague Act.

The total number of contracting states on December 31, 2002, was 7.

Patent Law Treaty (PLT)

The Patent Law Treaty was concluded in 2000. The purpose of the PLT is to harmonize and streamline formal procedures in respect of national and regional patent applications and patents. With a significant exception for the filing date requirements, the PLT provides maximum sets of requirements which the office of a contracting party may apply: the office may not lay down any other formal requirements in respect of matters dealt with by this Treaty.

The total number of contracting states on December 31, 2002, was 5.

Berne Convention

The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works was concluded in 1886. The Convention sets out and defines minimum standards of protection of the economic and moral rights of authors of literary and artistic works.

The total number of contracting states on December 31, 2002, was 149.

Geneva Convention (Phonograms)

The Geneva Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms against Unauthorized Duplication of their Phonograms was concluded in 1971. The Geneva Convention obliges each contracting state to protect a producer of phonograms who is a national of another contracting state against the making of duplicates without the consent of the producer, against the importation of such duplicates, where the making or importation is for the purposes of distribution to the public, and against the distribution of such duplicates to the public.

The total number of contracting states on December 31, 2002, was 69.

WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT)

The WIPO Copyright Treaty was concluded in 1996. It extends copyright protection to two additional subject matters: (i) computer programs and (ii) compilations of data or other material ("databases") in any form, which by reason of the selection or arrangement of their contents constitute intellectual creations.

The total number of contracting states on December 31, 2002, was 39.

WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT)

The WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty was concluded in 1996. The treaty deals with intellectual property rights of two kinds of beneficiaries: (i) performers (actors, singers, musicians, etc.), and (ii) producers of phonograms (the persons or legal entities who or which take the initiative and have the responsibility for the fixation of the sounds). They are dealt with in the same instrument because most of the rights granted by the treaty to performers are rights connected with their fixed, purely aural performances (which are the subject matter of phonograms).

The total number of contracting states on December 31, 2002, was 39.

UPOV Convention (plant varieties)

The International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (the UPOV Convention) was concluded in 1961. The objective of the Convention is the protection of new varieties of plants by an intellectual property right.

The total number of contracting states on December 31, 2002, was 52.

To discuss this topic further, please contact the author, Bill Heinze, at Thomas, Kayden, Horstemeyer & Risley. The information contained in this email is provided for informational purposes only and does not represent legal advice. Neither the APLF nor the author intends to create an attorney client relationship by providing this information to you through this message.

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