Your brand name is one of your biggest assets. It is the foundation on which you build your company’s goodwill and reputation. Take Uber or Airbnb as examples. These companies have built an enviable brand recognition around the world. If these companies do not protect their brand by registering a trademark, anyone can use a similar or even the same name and benefit from their popularity.

Protecting Your Brand Through A Trademark

In simple words, a trademark is a sign (name, logo or slogan) which distinguishes your good or services from other traders. Registering a trade mark gives you exclusive rights over a sign which you can use in relation to specific goods or services. An example of this is Pepsi Inc who have exclusive rights to the word ‘Pepsi’. If anyone else were to use the word ‘Pepsi’ to sell cold drinks, they will be infringing Pepsi Inc’s trademark and would be liable to pay profits earned or any damage caused.

All companies need a trademark. It gives you the legal protection required to safeguard your brand against others who might exploit it in any way. Trademarks only need to be filed in the country or region where a company is trading in. For the likes of Uber and Airbnb, they file an international trademark and expand their protection to countries where they provide their service. The process of filing an international trademark isn’t a one-off process, but rather an incremental process of filing a trademark in each specific country.

An International Trademark

As stated above, the international trademark isn’t a single application, but rather a series of applications made to each country where to want to register a trademark. This process is made easy through the Madrid System provided by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). This solution allows you to apply for a trademark in multiple countries at once. There are 113 member countries of the Madrid System, so there are limitations, but the system makes the process a lot more efficient.

To better illustrate the process of filing an international trademark, we have created the infographic shown below.

The international trade mark process in an infographic

Important things to note:

  • You must have an existing trademark application in a country to file an international trademark
  • The application must match the existing application, but you can reduce trademark classes

For a refresher on how the trademark process works in the UK or EU, please click on either link.