If due to the nature or size of your business you operate at a global level with a presence in nearly all of the countries in the world, you’re probably looking for ways to protect your intangible assets in those countries. Maybe you’ve asked yourself if it is possible to register a brand internationally, granting you protection for your products or services all over the world. Unfortunately, the answer is no, although there are some regional agreements that give an extended protection in certain geographic areas.
Despite the fact that this might slow things down for businesses or artisans who aren’t able to handle these kinds of registrations on their own, there is no reason to be pessimistic! It is possible to design a personalized strategy for your business that allows for you to register solely in the countries that provide the most protection. You need to pick your registration destinations strategically.
While the following list may vary slightly from one business to another, we’ll let you know the most lucrative countries that you should register your brand in for the most comprehensive worldwide protection, without investing too much time or money.
Beginning in Asia, we have China, a world superpower with over 1,300 million inhabitants, and the largest amount of exports in the world. No doubt the Chinese market is crucial for any business operating on a global scale. It’s also worth mentioning that China also tops the list of countries with counterfeit goods. Therefore, if you operate in China and decide to put off registering your brand or mark, you run the risk of copy-cats making counterfeit versions of your product, bringing significant economic losses that are difficult to control. Keeping in mind that China is one of the largest and most highly populated countries in the world, the price to register your brand there is certainly worth it. The average processing time for registration in China is approximately 12 months.
2. United States
Being one of the most influential countries on the planet, and the infinite mecca for entrepreneurs, means this country can’t possibly be missing from your list of places to register. A mark registered in the United States is protected at the federal level, giving it ample coverage on the North American continent. Registration in the United States is inexpensive, but can be somewhat bureaucratic, with registration time lasting anywhere from 12 months or longer.
Neighbor to the United States and inhabited by over 127 million people, Mexico is the country with the highest population of Spanish speakers in the world. It is of critical interest for any company wishing to market products or services to the Hispanic world. Regarding registration, Mexico’s legislation was recently reformed, aligning the process for registration closely with that of the United States. The entire process for standard registration takes roughly 12 months, and although the cost is not the lowest compared to some other countries, it is still quite affordable.
4. European Union (EUIPO)
Crossing the pond to the European continent, it is vital to take advantage of the European Union’s intellectual property agreement, which allows for a single registration system providing simultaneous registration in 28 countries. EUIPO agreements are effective in the United Kingdom until March, 2019. The cost to register in very low especially considering the large area of protection. The process for registration is simple and quick (around 6 months), making registration in the EUIPO very lucrative if you plan to expand within the EU at any time in the future. Registration with EUIPO does not guarantee that similar marks will be rejected in single European member states, so if there are particular jurisdictions where you want exclusive protection, it is best to register with the local national intellectual property office as well. We recommend to our clients that they register both in the country of operation and the European Union.
5. OAPI - Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle
Another regional agreement that could be advantageous is the OAPI in Africa, important for all those who offer products or services on the African continent. Through one registration application, you can obtain protection in 17 countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Togo). While the agreement doesn’t include all the African countries, it’s still a great way to invest and begin your registration on the continent. The procedure varies between 6 and 12 months.
6. Hong Kong
The last country on our international trademark registration list is another Asian giant – Hong Kong. Its open economy makes it a crux of international commerce, playing an important intermediary role for China and the rest of the world. The registration procedure takes between 6 and 12 months and the prices are very reasonable.
In conclusion, this list serves as an illustrative guide that includes certain countries for trademark registration due to their strategic position in international commerce or wide level of protection. It is important to consider that if a certain country is of particular interest to your business, it should definitely be considered when creating your international brand protection strategy, even if it means investing additional resources. We at iGERENT can help you determine the strategic territories that would be most effective to protect your intellectual property. Just get in touch with one of our intellectual property consultants!
Author: Kathryn Bouchard Intellectual Property Consultant @iGERENT