Yet another absolute must read from our friends at China Law Blog, this time on the importance of protecting your trademark globally and how to go about doing that. For anyone doing business internationally who has – or wants to – trademark their product, this is a great primer on the difficulties and risks involved and what you can do about it. As usual, I strongly suggest you read the whole thing, but here’s an excerpt to get your started:
Trademarks are among the most important assets of any company. Indeed, if it weren’t for trademarks, customers would be unlikely to even find a company’s products. Naturally, then, most companies want to protect these essential and valuable assets to the greatest extent possible and therefore make sure that they are registered with the United States Patent & Trademark Office (the “USPTO”).
But many companies stop there, thinking the job complete. It doesn’t occur to them that trademark rights are territorial and that owning a United States trademark registration creates no rights whatsoever outside the borders of the U.S. I’ve long since lost count of the number of companies who have suffered from this misconception. Although we now have several new tools to secure multijurisdictional protection, discussed more fully below, in large part trademark protection must still be secured jurisdiction by jurisdiction.
Often, the issue comes to light only after a problem has been encountered, such as someone selling knockoffs of the trademark owner’s products in another country. If the company is fortunate, corrective action is still possible. For many, however, it may be too late and no legal remedy exists. For such a company, someone else now owns “its” trademarks in that other country (or countries) and the only option, if any, is to purchase them back from the foreign “owner”, usually at a stiff price.
Read the whole thing.