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Trademarks provide a company or individual with intellectual property rights and protections for a logo or other distinctive signifier. These trademarks allow consumers to readily identify the goods or services provided by the company or individual, and hold great value. There is no current trademark that applies in all of the countries in the world. To obtain an international trademark for you or your client, it is important to understand the treaties and various systems which govern international property rights.
If you are applying for an trademark in a World Trade Organization (WTO) member country, the application must adhere to the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TIRPs). TIRPs trademark provisions and regulations are based upon the parameters set out in the Paris Convention for the Protection of Individual Property. Among other provisions, TIRPs guarantees that someone applying for a trademark in a WTO member country be given the same treatment as that country's nationals.
To obtain a registered trademark in another country, you must meet that country's requirements. TIRPs includes these requirements for WTO member nations. Another resource is the International Trademark Association (ITA), a worldwide not-for-profit organization which protects the interests of international trademark holders.
For individuals and companies wishing to register in all EU member countries, they may do so under the Community Trademark System (CTM). Registering with CTM requires only one application and filing fee for all member nations. The system is administered by the Organization for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM). Non-EU applicants must have professional representation to register or file an opposition claim. EU applicants do not need professional representation, although it is strongly advised.
Currently, 85 countries are represented by the Madrid System, an international trademark registration system administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization. Like CTM, registering with the Madrid System requires only one application and filing fee. An applicant must already have a valid registration in their home country before proceeding with a Madrid System application, however. In most countries, the applicant files with their home country, who in turn files an international application on the applicant's behalf.
If you require more information or are looking for further education on international trademark law, check with the ITA. They provide a number of different resources, including nation-specific registration information, a database of internationally registered trademarks, and an updated list of trademark cancellations. This organization also produces two publications, including a scholarly journal and a regular newsletter with information on current trends and practices, as well as forums and e-learning opportunities.
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