FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2012-12-24
If your trademark is protected in the United States, this does not ensure its safety in other countries. Before the Internet, national protections seemed to suffice. However, today, someone in another country could be using your trademark.
A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of these, which provides branding for a company. A business that thinks that its brand equity could potentially expand to other countries should consider filing a trademark to protect its brand rights.
Due to the proliferation of online markets and social media, it is important for a brand to control its trademark internationally. On the other hand, this can be difficult. Therefore, understanding trademark regulations on a global scale is important.
Establishing trademark rights
Trademark rights are based on actual use in the United States. In fact, using a trademark without registering it can actually give you rights to a name. To register your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, you must demonstrate actual use of that trademark.
However, trademark rights are established differently in other countries. Specifically, rights are recognized by registration. Therefore, if you are creating a brand in the U.S. and plan to expand the trademark overseas, you should consider filing registrations in other countries.
If you anticipate success of your brand in a particular area, you can register your trademark through the country’s Patent and Trademark Office. However, if you believe that your brand equity is extendible to multiple countries, you may consider a more comprehensive filing.
For example, if you apply for a Community Trademark, you can register its trademark throughout the entire European Union in one simple application and fee.
If you want a more comprehensive registration, you can initiate a broad filing through the Madrid Protocol, a group of 86 countries, including most industrial nations in the world. Through this process, you can file a mark in the United States and then extend it to other nations. This strategy involves individual country fees; however, it is a relatively effective and inexpensive option. You save administrative costs in not having to fill out multiple applications.
Before you create your trademark, you should run a clearance to ensure that your idea has not been used by another business. Adopting a similar trademark to others can lead to legal disputes and brand confusion.
Registering international trademarks can be important to your business. In filing, you can control these brands and guarantee that quality is associated with them.
If you have questions about trademark registration or rights, you should contact an experienced business law attorney today.