As businesses with their brands continue to expand it is important to understand how intricate trademark processes are. Especially when it inevitably comes to international trademark and brand registration. As of right now, there is no “worldwide” trademark and brand registration method available. For example, one country does not have the power to register a brand in another country and vice versa. A trademark owner must register their brand in each and every country individually, where it seeks protection. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO for short) states that, on average, four million trademark applications are filed every year worldwide. And any business’ natural step forward at some point is to file such an application. At first locally, in its own country of origin, then later when it expands further, in other. Here, we will list all the necessary information needed for us to painlessly go through the process of registering a trademark overseas.
1. The Madrid Protocol
The Madrid Protocol offers us the opportunity to obtain and maintain protection for our brand. This protocol encompasses more than eighty countries worldwide. These include the entirety of the European Union and other. Through a single international application, we can indicate the countries we are interested in. Some of the more important markets that we can designate are Australia, The United States, Russia, Mexico, Japan, Israel, etc. Another advantage of the Madrid Protocol is that it can be extended to other territories at any time. This is called adding “subsequent designations” and can be used to eventually add additional countries to our list. For example, our brand might be registered in three countries initially. Down the road, we can incrementally add to the list. Countries relevant to us and our brand will be covered with this protocol and will recognize it. The same trademark and brand protection rules apply to all countries that recognize the Madrid Protocol.
2. Hiring legal infrastructure
There are countries that do not recognize the Madrid Agreement. Some of them are Canada, South Africa, Arabia, etc. If we want to register a trademark or brand in such a country, hiring legal help is highly advisable. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), searching for an attorney is best done at the International Trademark Association. They will attend to all of our needs in a professional and conscientious manner.
3. Avoiding common mistakes
One of the most common mistakes that companies make is not ensuring ownership over the brand in question. Making sure that we actually, legally own the trademark is crucial before applying for protection. The second mistake is for us not to think through the purpose for the brand we want to register. Incorporating future uses for our brand will ensure that we stay consistent with the application of our brand. This is an official requirement in the United States. When it comes to international branding, translation can play a huge role. Our brand has a chance, when translated, to mean something we do not want it to. Most often it is a bad cultural connotation or an unfortunate match with a word we do not want to associate it with. Finally, trademark applications need to be distinctive to our brand. It is nothing without the differentiation it makes from the competition at the marketplace. Consumers need to look at our brand and identify it as a unique product or service. This means we cannot register something generic that cannot be distinguished from the competition.
4. The registration itself
Brand holders register their trademarks in key countries that they are interested doing business in. The first step is registering in the home county, the country of origin. Later on, when the time comes, we will register in other countries that are of strategic benefit to our business. If we originate from the United States, we will use the aforementioned USPTO website. And if we are located, for instance, in Australia, we will use one of the brand registration services in Melbourne. It can also be done through the country’s Patent and Trademark Office or through an attorney. All of these solutions will guide you through the entire process. When it comes to filling for foreign trademarks, there are time and money-saving ways of going about it. Instead of applying individually in each country, there are a couple of options on top of that. Applying for a Community Trademark will allow us to register throughout the EU, one application, one fee. The caveat is, if even one of the countries in question rejects our proposal, the entire CTM application is null and void. Alternatively, we can use the aforementioned Madrid Protocol that we have extensively gone through in the first passage of this article.
To conclude, we, unfortunately, cannot make a global trademark. That would just make things way to simple. But as we have seen, there are ways of navigating the convoluted procedure of applying for a trademark and brand protection. Whether it is a local or an international registration that we need, we have the knowledge to make it happen with no problems what so ever.