Trademark Law Treaty Implementing Legislation Signed into Law

On October 30, 1998, the president signed into law the implementing legislation for the Trademark Law Treaty ("TLT"). The TLT, ratified by the U.S. Senate on June 26, 1998, greatly simplifies the trademark registration process by eliminating individual procedures in more than 200 jurisdictions worldwide in favor of harmonized and streamlined application requirements and administrative procedures. For example, the TLT provides for the use of standardized forms, including trademark application forms and powers of attorney, prohibits certain requirements for notarization or other certification of signatures and requires use of the International Classification of Goods and Services. The implementation legislation also calls for changes in the trademark application/registration processes in the United States, including eliminating the requirement for an applicant filing on the basis of a home country registration to submit a certified copy of that registration with the initial application papers; extends the period for filing a renewal application from six months prior to the expiration of the registration, to one year. In addition, the grace period for filing renewals for expired registrations will be increased from three to six months.

The TLT's objective is to reduce the unnecessary and time-consuming paperwork often found in international trademark application and maintenance programs, thereby allowing trademark owners to concentrate attention on protecting and defending their marks -- often made necessary due to the increasing number of trademark counterfeiters. Another goal of the TLT in streamlining procedures is to reduce costs, which is of great concern to all trademark owners, but, in particular, to individuals and small and medium-size businesses operating with limited budgets.

Passage of the TLT and the implementing legislation comes almost four years after the Treaty was concluded in Geneva under the sponsorship of the World Intellectual Property Organization. The implementing legislation is scheduled to take effect one year after it is signed into law.