INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY: INFORMATION
Procedures for notifying and sharing information: state emblems
WTO members may notify state emblems that they wish to prevent from being registered or used trademarks. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) administers the communication procedures on behalf of both organizations, under the WIPO-WTO cooperation agreement.
Notifications under provisions of the Rome and Berne convention
Article 6ter of the Paris Convention (1967) (browse, more information) deals with the protection of state emblems, official hallmarks and the abbreviations and emblems of intergovernmental organizations against the registration or use as trademarks.
Article 6ter applies in the WTO through Article 2.1 of the TRIPS Agreement and lays down procedures for members (and intergovernmental organizations) to inform other members about the emblems that they wish to prevent from being registered or used as trademarks. The procedures also deal with how to object to protection for the emblems.
The application of the provisions of Article 6ter for the purposes of
the TRIPS Agreement is addressed in Article 3 of the
WIPO-WTO cooperation agreement and in the Decision of the TRIPS
Council of 11 December 1995 (document IP/C/7: download
Accordingly, the International Bureau of WIPO administers the
communication procedures under Article 6ter for the purposes of the
TRIPS Agreement in accordance with the procedures applicable under
Article 6ter of the Paris Convention (1967).
Main features of the arrangement
After the TRIPS Agreement entered into force, notifications made under Article 6ter of the Paris Convention became effective under the agreement for all WTO members whether they were parties to the Paris Convention or not. The actual date for each country depended on the transition periods — originally one year from 1995 for developed countries, five years for developing countries in general, and 11 years for the least-developed (now extended until 2013).
This covers all past as well as future notifications. In January 1996, the WIPO Secretariat informed WTO members that were not parties to the Paris Convention about the emblems that it had received under Article 6ter. Since January 1996, when a country that is not a party to the Paris Convention has joined the WTO, it has also received a set of the emblems that have been submitted by that time to the WIPO Secretariat.
Until recently, when a country submitted a sign for protection each sign was submitted individually and on paper. Modern technology has allowed this to be done electronically. Since 2009 the communications have been half-yearly using WIPO’s “6ter Express” database.
Available in the 6ter Express database are all state emblems of WTO members and of parties to the Paris Convention, and emblems of international intergovernmental organizations, which benefit from the application of Article 6ter.
By 2009, the database contained some 2,500 individual records, fully accessible and searchable online. Updated versions of the database are also being made available on CD-ROM, and can be ordered from WIPO.