Trademark Practice Tips
The world has drastically changed with the birth of the Internet, making almost everyone connected with the click of a mouse. For companies, this means that branching out into foreign countries is more accessible than ever before. Small, medium, and large sized corporations now find themselves able to market their businesses across a wide realm of places in order to establish a wide clientele base. The desire to branch out into more places is apparent in many companies that have now established themselves abroad, especially in places that many deemed extremely difficult or impossible to enter not too long ago.
This inter-connectivity, however, has many problems. For example, if there is a dispute, what country’s law should apply? Or, what are the tax consequences of venturing into a foreign country? Furthermore, there may be local ordinances or laws that forbid or severely limit certain types of foreign venturing.
One of the more important concerns centers on intellectual property rights. IP rights fluctuate from one country to the next, and because everything is easily accessible on the Internet, questions concerning how to protect one’s IP rights in a foreign country, and whether there are any safeguards to ensure other organizations do not file IP claims before the company successfully branches out are abound. Thus, all companies need to be aware of trademark and copyright considerations before branching out into foreign countries.
One country where many trademark and copyright problems have been coming into play is China. A Corporate Counsel article entitled, “Trademark Practice Tips in China”, Mr. Xiang Go of Peksung Intellectual Property offers several suggestions for the foreign enterpriser who desires to have trademark rights protected in China. The article suggests filing as early as possible, filing broadly but properly, filing in other classes as a precautionary measure, choosing a proper mark, using it consistently, keeping track of evidence relating to the mark, timely filing, and periodically monitoring possible infringing marks. But, these ideas are not just unique to China, as they apply to any company wishing to venture into another country. Even though the article is tailored to Chinese IP laws, corporations must be aware of what they can and cannot do before establishing themselves abroad.
The underlying theme of the article that goes unmentioned is that each company must do its due diligence as early as possible to determine first what the IP laws of the foreign country are, and then determine whether the company can file for protection. Without proper research, corporations are left blind and could end up in trouble with the local authorities. Although the author’s recommendations are important, indeed even necessary, they do not matter unless the first step of researching the relevant laws is undertaken. Getting acquainted with the local laws should be done as soon as the company desires to go abroad. This step seems obvious, but it must be emphasized that a proper foreign establishment must research and conform to all relevant IP laws before utilizing trademark protection ideas, like the ones mentioned above.
In the modern age, the first question is not how to protect one’s IP in a foreign country; but rather, can the company even file for foreign intellectual property rights? Thus, organizations must familiarize themselves with local laws, a necessity that cannot be overlooked. After doing so, companies can then tailor the aforementioned strategies tailored toward each specific country.