Are Trademarks International

A trademark is any symbol or word that represents and distinguishes a business's products (and even protects its brand) from those of others in the same sector. The three main types of trademarks are:

  • Words or symbols that designate a business, known as ordinary marks;
  • Certification marks, which identify products that meet a specific government standard; and
  • A unique product shape, known as distinguishing guise

In addition to trademarks, other forms of intellectual property (IP) protection include:

  • Patents, which protect new inventions; and
  • Copyrights, which safeguards works of art, music, drama, computer software, Industrial designs, integrated circuit topographies, the layout and design of 3D electronic circuits, etc.

A trademark can be federally registered to obtain an unquestionable proof of ownership, but unregistered trademarks are also recognized when used in commerce. A registered trademark prevents infringement by providing reliable evidence of ownership. Thus, if a trademark owner is challenged in court, the burden to invalidate the trademark rights falls on the person or company making the challenge. Simply put, the registration process verifies that the trademark is unique and protects it from infringement. So if you plan to start a business, you must register your business's trademark.

Because trademark registration is complicated, you should consider hiring an experienced trademark agent. They will ensure your trademark application is successful. Nonetheless, trademarks are only valid for 10 to 17 years, depending on where you registered them or whether you can renew them. 

Furthermore, the name under which you do business is known as a trade name. Your trade name can also be registered as a trademark if it identifies the products you sell. Notwithstanding, a trademark cannot be a proper name unless the public is already familiar with the products associated with the name in question. Other invalid trademarks, according to the Trademarks Act, include descriptive or misleading terms, and words that indicate a place or that are identical to existing trademarks.

Although to register a trademark, you'll need to complete a search for existing trademarks to make sure your desired mark isn't already in use. Afterwards, you can complete your application and submit it to the Trademarks Office. This office will publish your application and allow time for the public to oppose your trademark request. If there is no opposition from anyone (including from those with similar trademarks), your mark will be registered.

The Trademark Office will only decide the outcome your trademark registration during the examination process, not when the office is conducting its preliminary search. Also, you reserve the right to sell your trademark, transfer it to another, or licensed it. On the other hand, the Trademarks Office will not prosecute anyone who infringes upon your trademark, as you are responsible for monitoring and taking legal action against any infringement.

Registering Your Trademark Overseas

Trademark protection extends only throughout the United States; therefore, you may be vulnerable to international infringement. Because of the advent of the Internet, an even overseas violation can damage your brand's reputation. For this reason, you should consider filing for international trademark protection. Failure to protect your mark overseas could result in its use in another country.

However, it's important you understand international trademark registration before taking this step. Trademark rights in the United States are based on use. So you may be protected from trademark infringement if you use the mark commercially, even if you don't register the mark. Though if you do attempt to register your trademark, you'll need to show the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) proof that you are already using the mark for business purposes.

Conversely, in most other nations, trademark rights are based on filing rather than use. This kind of protection implies that if you are building a U.S. brand and are preparing for global expansion, you should file for trademark protection in the countries where you plan to do business in the future. Besides, you should appoint an experienced trademark attorney to guide you in your trademark search, filing, and clearance. On top of that, international trademark protection allows you to promote your brand's quality to an expanding audience.

Above all, you can successfully register your trademark abroad if you manage its legal complications correctly. So if you require help with international trademarks, just post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel is renowned for recruiting only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. UpCounsel legal staff are from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including working with or on behalf of companies like Google, Stripe, and Twilio