Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
By Richard Gearhart
Founding Partner

In today’s interconnected world, brands are not confined to national borders. As your business ventures beyond, securing your trademark in different countries becomes an important step in safeguarding your brand identity. Imagine launching a product overseas only to find your brand name already in use. This scenario highlights the need to understand the nuances of international trademark laws and processes. Grasping the complexities of where, how, and when to file for trademark protection globally is essential for international brand success.

Can a Trademark be Filed in Other Countries?

A trademark can be filed in other countries. This strategic move is vital for businesses looking to expand globally, as it ensures legal protection for your brand beyond domestic borders. At Gearhart Law, our experience in assisting clients with international trademark registration is extensive. Whether you’re an emerging startup or a well-established company, securing your trademark in multiple countries is a key step in safeguarding your brand’s identity and presence in the global market.

Selecting Countries for Trademark Filing

When considering international trademark filing, the key is to be strategic in selecting the right countries. It’s crucial to focus on territories where your business is likely to operate or expand. A trademark must be actively used within 3-5 years of registration; if it remains unused, you risk losing it due to non-use challenges. This “use it or lose it” principle underscores the importance of thoughtful planning. It’s not just about securing your trademark globally; it’s about ensuring its active and meaningful use in each country. This approach not only optimizes your trademark protection but also aligns with your business’s long-term international growth strategy, making your investments in trademarks more effective and sustainable.

Costs of Filing Trademarks Abroad

The cost of filing trademarks abroad varies significantly depending on the country. There’s a standard legal fee charged by Gearhart Law, which remains constant regardless of the location. However, the official fee, which covers working with foreign counsel to file your trademark in another country, differs from one jurisdiction to another. To assist in budgeting, we provide no-charge estimates for these variable costs. 

Examination of Trademarks in Different Countries

Each country independently examines trademark applications, meaning that approval in one nation doesn’t guarantee the same in another. This unique scrutiny by different trademark offices globally implies that a trademark granted in the U.S. may face challenges elsewhere, and vice versa. It’s important to understand that the approval process varies internationally, with each jurisdiction applying its own standards and legal frameworks. This diversity in examination can result in different outcomes, making it important to prepare for distinct requirements and potential hurdles in each country where you seek trademark protection.

The Role of WIPO in International Intellectual Property

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), established in 1967, plays a pivotal role in the realm of international intellectual property (IP). WIPO is instrumental in creating and enforcing various international IP treaties and regulations. This specialized agency of the United Nations serves as a global forum for IP services, policy, information, and cooperation. It helps to harmonize and streamline the process of protecting intellectual property across different nations, facilitating easier access to IP rights protection on an international scale.

Maintenance of International Trademarks

Maintaining a trademark in the international arena involves adhering to various country-specific requirements. In the United States, for example, a trademark registration comes with a 10-year term, renewable every decade, provided the mark is used as originally filed. Additionally, U.S. trademark holders must submit a declaration of use within the first six years. In contrast, most other countries also offer a 10-year registration term, but without the need for interim check-ins or declarations. However, renewal fees are due every 10 years. It’s important to note that these are not annual maintenance fees but rather renewal costs, ensuring continued protection of your trademark in each country where it’s registered. Keeping track of these diverse requirements is crucial for the ongoing validity of your international trademarks.

Translation Requirements for International Trademarks

When filing trademarks internationally, translation requirements vary by country. In certain jurisdictions, laws mandate that trademarks also be represented in the local language, especially if they relate to labeling and consumer information. However, many countries, like those in the European Union where English is an official language, do not require such translations. The decision to translate a trademark often depends on your strategy for local market engagement. While not obligatory in many places, a localized version of your trademark could resonate more effectively with the target audience, enhancing brand recognition and consumer connection in that specific market.

The Risks of Filing Trademarks Internationally Without an Attorney

Filing trademarks internationally without legal assistance carries significant risks. Trademark law is complex and varies greatly between countries, making it easy to overlook crucial requirements. For example, without proper legal guidance, you might file for a broad range of goods and services, unaware that specific countries require concrete proof of use. This oversight can lead to challenges and even cancellation of your trademark. Many find themselves seeking legal help only after facing such issues, sometimes too late to rectify the situation. Therefore, engaging with an attorney familiar with both your home country’s and the target country’s trademark laws is essential to ensure accurate, comprehensive protection for your brand.

Contact an Experienced International Trademark Attorney

Filing your trademark internationally is a strategic decision that requires careful planning and understanding of various countries’ legal landscapes. From choosing the right countries to understanding costs, examination processes, and maintenance requirements, it’s a journey best navigated with professional guidance. Gearhart Law is here to assist you every step of the way. For personalized advice and support in protecting your brand globally, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re committed to helping your business thrive worldwide.

About the Author
Richard Gearhart, Esq. is the founder of Gearhart Law and the host of a weekly radio show for entrepreneurs called “Passage to Profit”. He has built a firm with an international presence that helps entrepreneurs from around the world with their patent, trademark and copyright needs. Richard commands a breadth of experience that comes from nearly 30 years of practice in the writing and prosecution of hundreds of patents, and in all aspects of Intellectual Property law. In 2022, Richard was recognized by ROI New Jersey as a 2022 ROI Influencer in the Law List category for being one of the best of the best in New Jersey for intellectual property law. Gearhart Law emerged from Richard’s passion for entrepreneurship and startups and his belief that entrepreneurship grows the economy and creates jobs. When we started Gearhart Law, our goal was to help and support the new business ventures of 500 entrepreneurs and inventors. After 12 years, the firm has far surpassed this goal; today, we look forward to helping even more inventors and entrepreneurs get off to a great start and reach their own goals.