Startup Entrepreneurs, Do you need an International Trademark?

22nd Dec 2011
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Lawyers from VakilSearch answer

A common doubt which people running businesses have all the time pertains to intellectual property rights (IPR) protection.

Intellectual Property Rights are ‘intangible’ privileges. For instance, getting a gold ring is a tangible benefit. It entitles you to a specific benefit, and you can preserve the ring as an asset.

On the other hand, an intellectual property right is an intangible right – no one can touch and feel a trademark, patent or copyright. Yet these rights most certainly exist, and are often the most valuable parts of your business.

So can I get a trademark for my service internationally? 

No, you cannot get one, unfortunately. A trademark is a domestic right granted by the domestic trademark authorities.

For instance, here in India, the Indian Trademark office in Chennai and other places can only grant you an Indian trademark and not an international one.

The only way to get an international trademark is to get a national trademark in a number of different countries.

Can a foreign brand use my logo or name in another country if I have not got trademark protection there?

Yes, that might happen. As long as you do not have trademark protection in that country, a person in that country can apply for and get the same trademark which you are trying to get here in India.

What can I do to prevent that?

In practice, there is not much that you can do to protect yourself. However, there are certain advantages you will enjoy if you get a local trademark protection here in India.

First, the local trademark law authorities of most countries look to see whether the same mark has been taken anywhere else in the world. At least the Indian trademark authorities are reluctant to give a trademark if the same name has been protected by trademark elsewhere in the world, and you can expect a similar reluctance of the local trademark authorities everywhere.

Additionally, the trademark attorneys registering a trademark often ask the holder of the trademark in other countries whether they have any objection to the trademark being granted to another party.

So for instance, if someone tries to trademark the name ‘Krishna Sweets’ in another country, the attorney will try to contact the user of ‘Krishna Sweets’ trademark here in India to see if he has any objection. If he expresses a serious objection to the trademark being used, the attorney is likely to advise his client not to proceed with the registration.

A few closing thoughts

If you are a startup entrepreneur looking to protect your trademark, get a trademark for Indiaalone. It will suffice, and grant you protection here. Trying to get a trademark in all the major countries will be prohibitively expensive.

As your Company grows and if you have significant overseas clientele, then you can invest in getting a trademark in other countries as well.

Do not wait too long till you seek international protection either. If you have a few or more international clients and your business has started growing, get trademark protection overseas immediately. Start with the countries where you have a presence.

Till then, domestic trademark protection will be sufficient.

We will be writing on copyright for Computer Programmes very shortly. YourStory.in readers can now use YST10 to get a 10% discount on legal advice and other services on vakilsearch.com!

About VakilSearch

VakilSearch is India’s leading online legal services provider for businesses and individuals. As the official partner of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and knowledge contributor to Sulekha.com, the Hindu Business Line, Entrepreneur Magazine and the All India Rubber Association, VakilSearch reaches out to thousands of businesses, entrepreneurs and individuals on a regular basis. So when you visit vakilsearch.com, you can be assured of quality legal guidance and comprehensive documentation for your business and personal needs, at affordable prices.

Also, read an article on How to Register a Trademark by VakilSearch

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