By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
As Sri Lanka is observed to be actively preparing for Madrid Protocol Accession, the National Intellectual Property Office (NIPO) stressed the urgent need for increased resources to speed up efforts.
Acknowledging the prolonged delays in processing local applications, NIPO Director General Geethanjali Ranawaka said the lack of technical staff and office space has created a backlog, creating a hurdle in the path towards Madrid Protocol Accession. The Madrid Protocol is a centralised, global system for registering and maintaining trademarks in foreign countries. It is administered by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).
She said for Sri Lanka to plug into the Madrid system it must first clear its pending applications and draft amendments to the existing laws on intellectual property (IP).
“This is being done side by side but slowing us is the lack of staff in the system,” said Ranawaka along the sidelines of a seminar on Protection of Intellectual Property Rights of Traditional Knowledge and Cultural Expressions, yesterday, in Colombo.
She added that having outsourced lawyers to look into drafting the amendments, it is likely Sri Lanka will be part of the protocol by mid-2018, provided there is an increase in staff and the amendments are finalized by the Legal Draftsman no later than January 2018.
However, Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen in a statement yesterday said Sri Lanka would have complete accession to the Madrid system by end-2017.
It was shared that to ensure the deadline is met, the NIPO with its existing resources has cleared approximately 35,000 applications in the past three years. However, pending is processing of 2016 applications.
Although Ranawaka expressed confidence in clearing pending applications before 2018, a recent study by Verité Research revealed Sri Lanka generally takes approximately three to four years to process trademark applications.