About Intellectual Property IP Training IP Outreach IP for… IP and... IP in... Patent & Technology Information Trademark Information Industrial Design Information Geographical Indication Information Plant Variety Information (UPOV) IP Laws, Treaties & Judgements IP Resources IP Reports Patent Protection Trademark Protection Industrial Design Protection Geographical Indication Protection Plant Variety Protection (UPOV) IP Dispute Resolution IP Office Business Solutions Paying for IP Services Negotiation & Decision-Making Development Cooperation Innovation Support Public-Private Partnerships The Organization Working with WIPO Accountability Patents Trademarks Industrial Designs Geographical Indications Copyright Trade Secrets WIPO Academy Workshops & Seminars World IP Day WIPO Magazine Raising Awareness Case Studies & Success Stories IP News WIPO Awards Business Universities Indigenous Peoples Judiciaries Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions Economics Gender Equality Global Health Climate Change Competition Policy Sustainable Development Goals Enforcement Frontier Technologies Mobile Applications Sports Tourism PATENTSCOPE Patent Analytics International Patent Classification ARDI – Research for Innovation ASPI – Specialized Patent Information Global Brand Database Madrid Monitor Article 6ter Express Database Nice Classification Vienna Classification Global Design Database International Designs Bulletin Hague Express Database Locarno Classification Lisbon Express Database Global Brand Database for GIs PLUTO Plant Variety Database GENIE Database WIPO-Administered Treaties WIPO Lex - IP Laws, Treaties & Judgments WIPO Standards IP Statistics WIPO Pearl (Terminology) WIPO Publications Country IP Profiles WIPO Knowledge Center WIPO Technology Trends Global Innovation Index World Intellectual Property Report PCT – The International Patent System ePCT Budapest – The International Microorganism Deposit System Madrid – The International Trademark System eMadrid Article 6ter (armorial bearings, flags, state emblems) Hague – The International Design System eHague Lisbon – The International System of Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications eLisbon UPOV PRISMA Mediation Arbitration Expert Determination Domain Name Disputes Centralized Access to Search and Examination (CASE) Digital Access Service (DAS) WIPO Pay Current Account at WIPO WIPO Assemblies Standing Committees Calendar of Meetings WIPO Official Documents Development Agenda Technical Assistance IP Training Institutions COVID-19 Support National IP Strategies Policy & Legislative Advice Cooperation Hub Technology and Innovation Support Centers (TISC) Technology Transfer Inventor Assistance Program WIPO GREEN WIPO's Pat-INFORMED Accessible Books Consortium WIPO for Creators WIPO ALERT Member States Observers Director General Activities by Unit External Offices Job Vacancies Procurement Results & Budget Financial Reporting Oversight


What is a trademark?

A trademark is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. Trademarks are protected by intellectual property rights.

At the national/regional level, trademark protection can be obtained through registration, by filing an application for registration with the national/regional trademark office and paying the required fees. At the international level, you have two options: either you can file a trademark application with the trademark office of each country in which you are seeking protection, or you can use WIPO’s Madrid System.

In principle, a trademark registration will confer an exclusive right to the use of the registered trademark. This implies that the trademark can be exclusively used by its owner, or licensed to another party for use in return for payment. Registration provides legal certainty and reinforces the position of the right holder, for example, in case of litigation.

The term of trademark registration can vary, but is usually ten years. It can be renewed indefinitely on payment of additional fees. Trademark rights are private rights and protection is enforced through court orders.

A word or a combination of words, letters, and numerals can perfectly constitute a trademark. But trademarks may also consist of drawings, symbols, three-dimensional features such as the shape and packaging of goods, non-visible signs such as sounds or fragrances, or color shades used as distinguishing features – the possibilities are almost limitless.

world ip day

The theme for World IP Day 2024 is IP and the SDGs:  Building our common future with innovation and creativity.  Join us in celebrating the change makers around the world who are helping to build our common future with innovation and creativity backed by IP rights. 

Join us to celebrate World IP Day

Trademark topics and issues

From a trip to the shopping mall to an hour in front of the TV, we encounter trademarks at every turn. They are an indispensable tool in today's business world. 

(Photo: iStock.com/jbk_photography)


Trademarks, including service marks, are particularly important in the globalized tourism sector and are key to its further development.

(Photo: iStock.com/kaan tanman)

Marketing synergies

A successful marketing effort depends on trademark lawyers and marketers being on the same page.

(Photo: iStock.com/hjalmeida)

Similar/identical trademarks

Where similar/identical trademarks exist, coexistence agreements can be a mutually-beneficial solution to the problem.

Trademark law, treaties and documents

The treaties WIPO administers, together with national and regional laws, make up the international legal framework for trademarks.

Joint recommendations

These Joint Recommendations respond to trends and developments in international trademark law:

  • Protection of Well-Known Marks PDF, Joint Recommendation Concerning Provisions on the Protection of Well-Known Marks
  • Trademark Licenses PDF, Joint Recommendation Concerning Trademark Licenses
  • Protection of Marks, and Other Industrial Property Rights in Signs, on the Internet PDF, Joint Recommendation Concerning Provisions on the Protection of Marks, and Other Industrial Property Rights in Signs, on the Internet

Reference documents

  • Trademark Law and Practice – Summary of replies to questionnaire PDF, Summary of Replies to the Questionnaire on Trademark Law and Practice, Rev. 1
  • Representation of Non-Traditional Marks & Areas of Convergence PDF, Representation of Non-Traditional Marks – Areas of Convergence
  • Trademark Opposition Procedures – Areas of Convergence PDF, Trademark Opposition Procedures - Areas of Convergence
  • Grounds for Refusal of all Types of Marks PDF, Grounds for Refusal of all Types of Marks
  • Technical and Procedural Aspects Relating to the Registration of Certification and Collective Marks PDF, Technical and Procedural Aspects Relating to the Registration of Certification and Collective Marks
  • The Protection of Country Names Against Registration and Use as Trademarks PDF, The Protection of Country Names Against Registration and Use as Trademarks

IP laws and treaties (WIPO Lex)

The WIPO Lex database is a comprehensive search tool that allows you to search international treaties and national laws on intellectual property.

Standing Committee (SCT)

The Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications (SCT) is the forum where WIPO's member states discuss policy and legal issues relating to the international development of trademark law and standards.

Latest meetings

More SCT photos on Flickr. (Photo: WIPO)

Registering trademarks

The Madrid System — International trademark registration made easy

The Madrid system for the international registration of trademarks provides a single procedure for the registration of a mark in several territories. In a nutshell, you benefit from one application, in one language, paid in one currency.

Searching trademarks and other signs

Global Brand Database

Our Global Brand Database provides easy access to over 28 million records from multiple international and national sources, including marks registered through WIPO’s Madrid System. Use the database to search for trademarks, appellations of origin and official emblems.

Nice Classification — Streamlining searches

The Nice Classification is an international system used to classify goods and services for the purposes of the registration of marks.

Related services

(Photo: iStock.com/Ina Peters)

The Lisbon System for geographically-unique products

From Champagne to Habanos cigars, the unique geographical characteristics of a product can be key for branding. The Lisbon System for the international registration of appellations of origin protects such products through a single registration.

(Photo: iStock.com/yesphoto)

Article 6ter and state emblems

Article 6ter is used to protect armorial bearings, flags and other state emblems of the states party to the Paris Convention.

(Photo: iStock.com/zimmytws)

Alternative Dispute Resolution

The WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center provides trademark owners with efficient international mechanisms to deal with disputes over Internet domain names corresponding to their trademark rights.