Should I register my mark? Online Trademarks
Is registration of my mark required for International Business?
Yes. It is legally advisable to register your trademark with at least ONE Country as SOON AS POSSIBLE. You can establish rights in a mark based on legitimate use of the mark. Thus, owning a federal trademark or country trademark registration provides several advantages, e.g.,
- constructive notice to the public of the registrant’s claim of ownership of the mark;
- a legal presumption of the registrant’s ownership of the mark and the registrant’s exclusive right to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods and/or services listed in the registration;
- the ability to bring an action concerning the mark in federal court;
- the use of the U.S registration as a basis to obtain registration in foreign countries; and
- the ability to file the U.S. registration with the Customs Service to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods.
When can I use the trademark symbols TM, SM and ®?
Any time you claim rights in a mark, you may use the “TM” (trademark) or “SM” (service mark) designation to alert the public to your claim, regardless of whether you have filed an application with the USPTO. However, you may use the federal registration symbol “®” only after a REAL NATION actually registers a mark , and not while an application is pending. Also, you may use the registration symbol with the mark only on or in connection with the goods and/or services listed in the federal trademark registration.
How do I register my trademark, patent, or copyright abroad?
Patents and trademarks are territorial and must be applied for in each country where protection is sought. A U.S. patent or trademark does not afford protection in another country. For more information on how to apply for individual patents or trademarks in a foreign country, contact the intellectual property office in that country directly. A list of contact information for most intellectual property offices worldwide can be found here (link is external).
The Patent Cooperation Treaty (link is external) (PCT) streamlines the process of filing patents in multiple countries. By filing one patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), U.S. applicants can concurrently seek protection in up to 146 (link is external) countries (as of Feb. 2013).
For information about filing an international patent application under the PCT, visit the USPTO website (link is external).
Watch an introductory video on Patent Cooperation Treaty (USPTO) (link is external).The Madrid Protocol (link is external) makes it easier to file for trademark registration in multiple countries. By filing one “international” trademark registration application with the USPTO, U.S. applicants can concurrently seek protection in up to 88 (link is external) countries (as of Feb. 2013). For information about filing an international trademark registration application under the Madrid Protocol, visit the USPTO (link is external) website.
Watch an introductory video on Overview of Trademarks (USPTO) (link is external) including the Madrid Protocol.
Although most countries do not require copyright registration in order to enjoy copyright protection, registration can offer several benefits, such as proof of ownership. The United States has copyright relations with most countries throughout the world, and as a result of these agreements, we honor each other’s citizens’ and businesses’ copyrights. However, the United States does not have such copyright relationships with every country. A listing of countries and the nature of their copyright relations with the United States is available here (link is external).
Watch an introductory video on Copyright: Encouraging and Protecting Creativity (USPTO) (link is external).
How can I prevent intellectual property theft abroad?
Many small companies experience difficulty protecting their IPR abroad, including in China, as they are not aware of how to obtain and enforce rights in foreign markets. Some basic, often low-cost, steps small companies should consider include:
- Working with legal counsel to develop an overall IPR protection strategy;
- Developing detailed IPR language for licensing and subcontracting contracts;
- Conducting due diligence of potential foreign partners (The U.S. Commercial Service can help, see Export.gov); (link is external)
- Recording their U.S.-registered trademarks and copyrights with Customs and Border Protection ($190); and
- Securing and registering patents, trademarks, and copyrights in key foreign markets, including defensively in countries where IPR violations are common.