WASHINGTON (AP) _ Holders of U.S. trademarks would be allowed to file applications for international versions in the United States instead of abroad under a bill the House passed Tuesday.

Once the application is processed and approved, the trademark would be protected by both domestic and international law. U.S. businesses would no longer have to register for trademarks in each country where they market their products.

The bill, passed by voice vote, would implement provisions of the 1989 Madrid Protocol, a treaty that seeks to develop a low-cost international system for registering trademarks.

If the bill becomes low, however, it will not make the United States a treaty participant. International agreements must be signed by the president and ratified by the Senate, the process for approving all international treaties.

But supporters of the House bill said it would send a message to international businesses that the United States is serious about participating in such a trademark protection agreement.

U.S. officials have balked at signing the agreement over the issue of voting rights for members of the European Union. Each of the EU's 15 member countries is given a vote and the EU as a whole receives an additional vote.

``The U.S. State Department is concerned by this provision since it contradicts the traditional democratic concept of one vote per participating country,'' said a statement released by the House Republican Conference.

The House passed a similar measure last year, but the Senate did not vote on it before the adjournment of the 105th Congress.


The bill is HR769.