What is a Priority Claim for a trademark application?
Priority is a right given and recognized by the great majority of countries around the world to the applicant of a trademark that has been filed for the very first time. When filing a specific trademark for the first time, that is, not having applied for the same trademark in any other country or territory before, the owner is granted a 6-month period from the date of first filing in order to be able to file in any other country as if the trademark would have been filed on the date of the first application (if priority is claimed).
If you were to file a trademark for the first time in the United Kingdom on the 1st of January of X year, and then applied for a trademark 4 ½ months later in Germany you would have two options:
Option 1 - NOT claiming priority: The application for the German trademark would then be considered as having been done on the actual date of filing (15th of May of X year).
Option 2 - (YES) Claiming Priority: The application of the German trademark would be considered as having been done on the same date as that of the trademark filed in the United Kingdom. Therefore, although the trademark was actually filed on the 15th of May of X year, it would actually be considered as if it would have been filed 4 ½ months before on the same date as the trademark in the United Kingdom, that is, the 1st of January of X year.
Why should I consider claiming priority when applying for a trademark in multiple countries?
Most countries have a first-come, first-serve system of registration. That means that the person or company who applies first has rights to a trademark. Even in countries that have a first-to-use principle, the existence of a previously filed trademark would require the late applicant to demonstrate his rights over the trademark, having to incur heavy legal cost to do so.
Therefore, if you believe a third party or trademark squatter is trying to register a trademark that you are interested in and which you have already filed in another country, even though you may be late to apply or register in one or more countries, by claiming priority your trademark may be considered as having been presented first. Remember, similar or identical trademarks that have been filed before will be grounds for rejection by the trademark office.
What are the requirements for claiming priority?
- Priority must be claimed using the first-ever filed trademark.
- Priority can only be claimed by the owner of the first filed trademark.
- Priority must be claimed at the moment of filing the subsequent applications before the term of 6 months ends, starting from the date that the first trademark was filed.
- Priority can be claimed only in regards to the class and goods or services that the first application was filed for.
- Priority can be claimed only to file an identical trademark.
Depending on the country, the costs and required documentation may vary.