Updated November 23, 2020:

The cost of international trademark registration may refer to the Madrid Protocol or registering in each foreign nation separately. The total cost depends on a number of factors.

The International Trademark Application

First, there isn't an “international trademark” that's accepted everywhere. There is, however, international registration.

When you register a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, you have trademark protection throughout the United States. This trademark protection doesn't extend to other countries. If you want to protect your mark abroad, you'll have to register it with the countries where you want protection.

The Madrid Protocol allows trademark owners to register their marks in any of its member countries. Trademark owners only have to file a single application, referred to as an “international application.” The United States is one of the member countries in the Madrid Protocol, along with more than 100 others.

The international application makes the process of applying for foreign trademarks easier, but it's no guarantee that a particular country will accept your registration. Each country follows its own laws and standards pertaining to the types of trademarks it registers.

The Cost of International Trademark Registration

The cost of registering an international trademark varies from one place to another because each country can be territorial over trademark rights and registration. Brand owners with various lines of business will have higher costs than a local company that only has one product.

Your cost depends on several factors, such as the following:

  • How you go about registration
  • The complexity of your trademark
  • The type of registration

However, if you plan to market and sell internationally, you must register your trademarks in those foreign countries where you wish to do business. It's important to understand trademark regulations in the various countries you want to register.

The Madrid Protocol

The Madrid Protocol makes it convenient and cost-effective for trademark owners to register and manage their marks worldwide. You can file a single application and only pay one set of fees to register for protection in up to 117 countries. This centralized system allows you to renew, modify, or expand your international trademark portfolio.

There are several advantages the Madrid Protocol offers, including the following:

  • A single application: When you use the Madrid Protocol, you only have to file one trademark application. This is much simpler than having to file individual applications for each country you wish to register in.
  • No need to hire foreign trademark firms: You don't have to retain trademark counsel in numerous countries. This can be a money saver. Unless you run into problems in one or more of the countries you're registered in, you won't need to hire trademark counsel there.
  • Easy payment of renewal fees: You'll have to pay fees from time to time to most countries your trademark is registered in to keep your registration in force. With an international registration, you'll pay renewal fees to the International Bureau of WIPO, and it will keep your rights in force in each country you're registered.
  • Easy changes to information: If you change your address, you only have to communicate the change once to the International Bureau of WIPO. Likewise, if your ownership or entity type changes, the office will change the information, and it takes automatic effect in all countries your trademark is registered.

Despite all of these advantages, some people may choose not to use the Madrid Protocol for several reasons, which include the following:

  • Although over 100 countries currently belong to the Madrid Protocol, the specific country someone may want to register in may not be a member. For instance, as of 2017, Canada was not a member country in the Protocol.
  • The application for the Madrid Protocol only requires an individual to identify goods and services in a way that's no more broad than how they're identified in the standard U.S. application. Some people may find this description too narrow.

If you prefer a streamlined system, you might want to use the Madrid Protocol. Just remember that not every country is a member. If you want to register your trademark in a foreign country that's not part of the Protocol, you may have to register there separately.

If you need help understanding the cost of international trademark registration, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.