One of the most important aspects of any business is its name, it’s brand, its trademark. It’s a sign of your company, it stands for your hard work and dedication, the sweat, blood, and tears you put into your line of work. It, then, stands to reason that you would want to protect this aspect at all costs, tooth, and nail. For this reason, you would want to register a trademark.
A trademark represents your brand name, it’s usually a short phrase that has a logo that comes with it. It is a representation of your brand, and it’s part of your identity. For this reason, you want it to stay like that. You want to have people think of your business anytime they come across this phrase, you want them to know that when they see goods or services bearing your trademark, that they know what they are going to get. And if you do not register it properly, you become open to abuse. This is of course much worse if you want to go international. The possibilities for profit are endless, as are the possibilities for headaches and corporate drama.
Why get a Trademark?
Once you’re open to abuse, any competitor that has less than shining morals can abuse this. They can use your trademark to promote their lower quality products, either as a way to piggyback on your successor to intentionally tank your business. They can do the latter by placing your logo onto products of inferior quality, ruining your reputation. They can exploit you, and cause serious issues.
With a trademark, you have a strong basis to litigate against these kinds of things. You get the option of taking them to court and handling the whole issue quickly, and efficiently. Or at least, much more quickly without a trademark. And of course, all this becomes amplified if you want to enter a foreign, international market. More competitors, unfamiliar grounds, unfamiliar laws, and strange, new situations.
First things first…
So, before you go international, there are certain steps you need to take. First, obviously, create your own logo or phrase. Think of something catchy and memorable, while still being short and succinct. And also, be certain that nobody else is using it. You can check on that by performing a good trademark search, either by yourself or with the assistance of a professional company.
Once you have chosen their right phrase and logo, you should go to your government’s trademark registration office. It is most often than through the relevant Patent Office (as it’s done, for example, in the US). When you do this process through the patent office, you will most like have the following procedure happen. First, they will search their trademark database once more, just to double check. You will then be presented with some sort of form, and will finally just pay the registration fee.
Next, you want to go international. If you truly desire to do so, here are some more things you should keep in mind. Namely, by doing all your paperwork and registering your trademark for, let’s say, the US, you won’t be covered by this protection in other countries. But, don’t fret. No, you don’t have to register your trademark for every country individually.
However, if you truly want to make the most out of your profits, then you should register an international trademark. Namely, if you just operate in your own country, there is no reason to go through all that bureaucratic nonsense. However, if you, for example, handle an online shop, losing out on an international trademark means you either can’t sell to foreign nationals, or you leave yourself open to abuse.
How to get an international trademark
In order to get an international trademark, you need to go through the so-called Madrid Protocol or Madrid System. Organize by the WIPO (world intellectual property organization) that is found in Switzerland, in Geneva, the Madrid system makes the trademark registration process much simpler. First, you need to see if your country is a member country of the Madrid system. Then, you file the relevant application at your appropriate office. This not only allows you to register but also helps you renew and change your trademark directly, with minimal bureaucratic interferences. The Madrid process allows you to register your trademark to other non-member countries a bit easier than if you were to do it alone
Setting up your trademark for a specific country can also most likely be done through your government’s patent or trademark office. There is usually a fee that accompanies this trademark.
There is one final point that is to be made here. Namely, perhaps you are going international, but only want to do business in the European Union. If you’re going with this route, the best choice is probably registering with the EU intellectual property office. You can do this online, and you should know that your registration will also around 10 years. You can also renew your registration whenever you wish.
Remember to be incredibly thorough and precise. These applications take weeks or even months to be handled and set out. The last thing you need is to lose money and time due to a spelling error.
Finally, getting the advice of a professional lawyer can go a long way. Finding one that is specialized in trademark law can get the whole process run smoother, and faster. Sure, an attorney can be expensive, but so is your time. Furthermore, how much time and money will you lose if your application gets rejected? And remember that there is at least one extra step of complication when going international.
Registering your trademark in the international market is not as difficult as it seems. There are a couple of steps you need to adhere to along the way, but you need to do them if you want proper protection. Just access the right office, do the proper paperwork, and you’re good to go,