Many companies do business in the United States and in various foreign countries. While many businesspeople understand the importance of registering trademarks in the U.S., they sometimes overlook the fact that they should apply to register their trademarks in every country in which they do business. It is not only possible but also advisable for companies to register their trademarks in a variety of countries in order to have the right to prevent infringement of their trademarks.
A company may first apply to register their trademarks with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. They begin this process by filling out an application form online or hiring an attorney to do this for them. The application will be examined by an attorney at the USPTO, who may then issue a document known as an office action if they determine that the application has irregularities or if they believe the applied-for mark may be confusingly similar to a mark that was previously registered. The applicant responds to the office action, hopefully resolving any issues. The application will then be published for opposition. If no member of the public opposes the application, it will be allowed and eventually become a registration.
The process for obtaining a trademark registration differs widely between countries. It is possible to apply for a trademark registration in foreign countries that claims priority to a U.S. application, as long as the foreign applications are filed within six months of the filing date of the U.S. application. This practice gives these foreign applications an effective filing date of as much as six months prior to the actual filing date. This may be important because in most countries, the first applicant to file an application for a mark is often the one who gets the registration.
In some countries, a trademark registration can be obtained on the strength of an existing registration in another country, while others must conduct their own examination of the applied-for mark and publish the mark for opposition. Some nations will require that a mark actually be used on goods or services in their country before the mark can be registered, which is true in the U.S., but other countries do not have this requirement. Because trademark laws vary between counties, it is recommended that applicants seek the assistance of intellectual trademark attorneys to ensure their applications are in compliance with local laws.