The Director General of the Trademarks Branch of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO), Mesmin Pierre, indicated this week that Canada will accede to the Madrid Protocol in early 2019. The Madrid Protocol is an international treaty with 117 current members that allows for a unified application process that reduces costs when trademark protection is sought in multiple foreign countries.

The announcement at the 140th Edition of the International Trademark Association (INTA) Meeting is the result of work that started back in 2014. Since then, Canada has been working to put appropriate regulations in place, altering practice notices, and tweaking internal processes. CIPO has been aided by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in making the transition. WIPO is currently working with CIPO to make sure that e-filing and other IT back ends are ready to go.

Pierre stated that joining the Madrid Protocol will have many benefits for not only businesses, but for Canada. The unified process will allow for greater competition in Canada at a cost savings over the current Canadian trademark approach. Due to the cost savings, the increase in business activity will spur foreign investment for Canada.

What this means for businesses is pretty clear–consult with your trademark attorney about holding off on filing in Canada until accession in 2019. Also, businesses should consider adding Canadian trademark protection to an IP portfolio based on the cost savings associated with the Madrid Protocol.