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The Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks

The goal of the original Trademark Law Treaty of 1994 was to make national trademark registration systems more user-friendly through the simplification and international harmonization of procedures. The Singapore Treaty of 2006 amends and expands upon the original Treaty.

The Singapore Treaty simplifies and standardizes many formalities and procedures relating to the administration of trademarks. It regulates the maximum number of requests by an office and makes procedures more user-friendly, more consistent internationally and thus less time-consuming for applicants. It has common rules for recording, amending and cancelling trademark licences. The Singapore Treaty also introduces new mandatory relief measures for trademark office procedures to alleviate procedural errors made by applicants, including missed time limits. Finally, it covers new forms of marks, such as holograms, position marks, sound marks and olfactory marks. Additional information on the Singapore Treaty.

It is important to note that neither the Trademark Law Treaty nor the Singapore Treaty attempts to harmonize substantive trademark law, such as, for example, the grounds on which an application may be refused. In addition, countries that do not join the Singapore Treaty can adopt any or all of its standards under national law.

Implications

Many of Canada's major trading partners adhere to the standards of the Singapore Treaty. Amending Canada's Trade-marks Act to align with the standards of the Singapore Treaty would harmonize our administrative procedures for registering trademarks with those of these trading partners. This would likely result in administrative savings and reduced compliance costs for both Canadian and foreign applicants.

If Canada chose to adopt the standards set out in the Singapore Treaty by amending the Trade-marks Act, a clear signal would be sent internationally of our commitment to the simplification and harmonization of trademark registration procedures and to reducing the associated administrative and compliance costs. It could also allow us to participate in future multilateral discussions relating to system improvements and further harmonization opportunities.

Questions to Consider

  1. In what ways would trademark owners be expected to benefit from Canada adopting the standards of the Singapore Treaty?
  2. In what circumstances might it not be in Canada's best interests to do so?
  3. What would be the economic impact for Canada of adopting the standards of the Singapore Treaty?

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