India today joined the International Registration of Marks at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) by depositing the instrument of accession to the Madrid Protocol.
India is the 90th member to join the international trademark system and the treaty will enter into force with respect to India on 8 July 2013, according to a press release by the WIPO.
India's minister for commerce, industry and textiles Anand Sharma deposited the instrument of accession to the Madrid Protocol.
Earlier, addressing a high-level policy dialogue at the WIPO headquarters in Geneva today, Sharma defended flexibilities for developing nations in honouring their international Intellectual Property (IP) commitment to meet their social challenges.
Sharma reminded the WIPO that while countries of the South have a responsibility to honour their international commitments, they should have also have the flexibility to provide affordable healthcare solutions for their citizens.
''It is my belief that while all countries are obligated to honour their international commitments, inherent flexibilities must be provided to developing countries to address these pressing social challenges,'' said Sharma.
Sharma also raised the issue of the intellectual property associated with genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore such as curative aspects of neem and haldi etc, which are being plundered.
India has created a unique digital library of traditional knowledge which has over 250,000 entries highlighting the source and the efficacy of each product, Sharma expressed concern about the fact that at times there is extensive bio-piracy through patents being awarded for traditional knowledge.
''India has been at the forefront for bringing this agenda on the negotiating table and for the last one decade, we have been trying to build a consensus for a binding treaty on traditional knowledge. I hope that WIPO shall be able to bring these negotiations to culmination,'' he said.
The Madrid Protocol on the International Registration of Marks aims at offering a safe and effective means of protecting and managing their trademark portfolio internationally.
''We recognise that this instrument will provide an opportunity for Indian companies, which are increasing their global footprint, to register trademarks in member countries of the protocol through a single application, while also allowing foreign companies a similar dispensation.''
WIPO director general Francis Gurry welcomed India's accession, noting, ''India's accession to the Madrid system is a major milestone in bringing us closer to transforming the Madrid System into a system with truly global reach.'' He added: ''India's participation in the Madrid system gives brand owners around the world the ability to extend their protection to the important Indian market, through a single, simplified and cost-effective procedure.''
India is the 14th of the G-20 economies to accede to the Madrid Protocol.
''India's accession to the international trademark system, as with the recent accessions by Colombia, Mexico, New Zealand and Philippines, signals an era of significant geographical expansion of the Madrid system, which offers greater benefit to right holders worldwide,'' Gurry said.
The Madrid system is especially attractive to large businesses amidst the current global economic conditions, by protecting markets internationally.
The year 2012, meanwhile, saw the highest number of international trademark applications being filed under the Madrid system, with 44,018 applications - a 4.1 pe4r cent increase from the previous year.