Stakeholders Sensitised on International Registration of Trademarks

By Amie Sanneh

Stakeholders, on 2 December, 2015 gathered at a local hotel to be sensitised on the opportunities and implications associated with the Gambia’s accession to the Madrid Protocol on the International Registration of Marks. The National Assembly ratified the said Protocol and thereafter deposited the instrument of ratification with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) on 18 October, 2015. As per the Madrid Protocol, The Gambia is slated to become a fully fledged member of the Madrid System on 18 December, 2015. As part of the accession process, the Justice Ministry in collaboration with WIPO organized this sensitisation for stakeholders.

The Solicitor General and Legal Secretary, Justice Ministry, Cherno Marenah, recalled that about three months ago, The Gambia acceded to the Madrid Protocol for the International Registration of Marks, following the ratification of the Protocol by the National Assembly. “Following the amendment of the necessary legal instruments, The Gambia is poised to become a fully fledged member of the Madrid System in 16 days time i.e. 18 December, 2015”. For this reason, he emphasized the need for them to prepare themselves for effective participation in the Madrid system, thus the need for this seminar for stakeholders.

The essence of this seminar, according to the Legal Secretary, is to sensitise trademark agents, the media, users and potential users of the trademark protection regime on the implications as well as the opportunities associated with their accession to the Madrid System. “It goes without saying that the Madrid system for the international registration of marks opens up a world of opportunities for trademark owners in The Gambia, as it enables one to obtain world wide registration and protection of trademarks through a single filing, in one language from right here in The Gambia, as opposed to filing separately with trademark offices in the various contracting states in different languages and paying separate fees to each office,” explains the Solicitor General. This centralized filing and management system is a strong incentive for those who wish to obtain worldwide protection, he added.

Marenah further stated that trademark protection has significant economic advantages for a society as it encourages sellers to invest in the quality of products that are being advertised. “Sellers make such investments in quality because they know the power of branding” adding “They appreciate that the consumers’ experience with the brand and the product may not be short-lived but can lead to a long-term product preference because of brand loyalty based on repeated satisfactory experiences with the product”. Our accession to the Madrid System for the International registration of Marks is therefore to facilitate trademark registration for all users of the system, he said.

He extended his appreciation to the Director General of WIPO Mr. Francis Garry for the continuous assistance they render to them as they strive to enhance efficiency in the development, administration and protection of Intellectual Property (I.P.) as well as consolidate the integration of The Gambia in the world of I.P. The modest gains they have registered so far would have been more difficult to attain without WIPO’s support, Marenah said. He therefore expressed optimistic that such collaboration will continue to further improve the I.P architecture and governance regime in The Gambia.

WIPO Representative Neil Wilson, Director, Registries Support Division, in a brief remark told participants that Gambia is the 96th member of WIPO. He expressed hope that participants will make the best use of the seminar as they are here to support them

In a presentation, Debbie Ronning, Director, Legal Division, Madrid Registry, WIPO, described Madrid as a one-stop shop for trademark holders to obtain and maintain trademark protection in export markets

She also said, it is convenient and cost effective

“One international application is equivalent to a bundle of national applications, effectively saving time and money”.

According to her, Individual entrepreneurs, small and large businesses find the Madrid System to be a convenient and cost-effective means to protect marks in key markets throughout the world.