Registered trade marks are territorial. If you apply for a trade mark in the UK, you'll only have protection in the UK.
If you're considering taking your services or exporting your goods overseas - now or in the future - you might want to consider registering your trade mark in other countries. You can do this in three different ways - on a national, regional or international level.
National trade mark application
You can apply directly to Industrial or Intellectual Property Offices of individual countries to secure trade marks in their jurisdiction. A few things to keep in mind if you pursue this route:
- you may need to translate each application into the national language
- you will need to pay the national application fees
- you may need to work with a IP agent or attorney to make sure that the application meets national requirements
Regional EU trade mark application
If you do business, or plan to do business, in more than one European country, you should look into applying for a EU trade mark (EUTM).
The EUTM creates a unified trade mark registration system in Europe, through which a single registration provides protection in all current and future member states of the EU.
If you choose to apply for a EU trade mark, keep in mind that:
- an online EU trade mark application costs €850
- you can file an application in just one language to cover all the EU countries
- you can renew your EU trade mark indefinitely every ten years
EU trade marks will continue to extend to the UK during the Brexit transition period until the end of 2020. From 1 January 2021, EUTMs will no longer protect trade marks in the UK. On 1 January 2021, the UK IPO will create comparable UK trade mark rights for all right holders with an existing EU trade mark. EUTMs will continue to cover the remaining EU member states. Find guidance on the EU trade mark protection and comparable UK trade marks from 1 January 2021.
International trade mark protection
An international trade mark application is possible under the Madrid system, which is managed by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva.
What is the Madrid protocol?
The Madrid system provides a cost-effective and efficient way for trade mark owners to protect their marks simultaneously in up to 119 countries that have ratified the protocol.
The system allows you to file one trade mark application:
- with a single office (in national or regional trade mark office)
- in one language
- with one set of fees and in one currency
- without requiring a local agent to act on your behalf in the designated countries
The Madrid protocol also allows you to modify, renew or expand your global trade mark portfolio through one centralised system.
Using the Madrid system
If you apply under the Madrid protocol, your trade mark application will be examined according to the rules of the designated country. If accepted, your trade mark will gain the same protection in that country as if it was registered directly with the country’s trade mark authority.
Your trade mark will last for ten years, after which you can renew indefinitely (provided that you pay the fees). The cost of an international trade mark registration will depend on where you want to protect your mark and how many classes of goods and services your registration will cover. Find out about the fees and payments under the Madrid system.
Protected international trade marks registrations filed under the Madrid Protocol that designate the UK or the EU (or both) currently have effect in the UK. At the end of the Brexit transition period, from 1 January 2021, all existing international trade mark registrations designating the EU will no longer provide protection in the UK. These rights will be immediately and automatically replaced by comparable UK rights. Read about the changes to international trade mark protection from 1 January 2021.
Registering trade marks overseas can be complicated and it's a good idea to get help from a qualified trade mark attorney or patent attorney. Find a chartered trade mark attorney.
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