Intellectual Property and Expanding business abroad
This article is guide intended mainly for those who wish to expand their business to another country i. e. other than home country. It covers challenges that needs to be considered and explaining how important it is to be prepared to protect your intellectual property (IP) before this expansion.
The first and essential fact you shall note when thinking of, for instance, exporting your goods or services, is that most IP rights have territorial character. That means these rights such as trademarks, industrial designs, patents and so on, have legal power only in the country or region in which they have been granted protection. If it comes to copyright, situation might be different, depending on pertinent country, because copyright protection is granted automaticly in all contracting states of the Berne Convention. Thus you should always consider whether your rights will be protected in the country you are willing to expand. To explain principle of terriroriality I am adding an example:
Lets say your country of origin is Japan and you want to start offering your branded services in South Korea. You also have your brand registered in Japan as trademark. If you do not obtain trademark protection in South Korea before expansion, everyone is free to use your trademark in business without your permission. And by trademark using I also mean adding it as keyword to advertising systems on the internet. There is wide range of possibilities of using or misusing your trademark. This is the main reason why you should first secure all the IP rights you need to achieve your business success in another country of interest.
Another issue to consider before entering new market is to take different laws, procedures, fees, customs and IP regimes into account. The best way to be prepared for these elements is to consult IP consultant specialised in pertinent area.
If you enter the new market fully prepared and protected, the competitors willing to use your IP will have no other choice but to try to obtain license from you, so they can use your IP legally. Licensing can be and is a huge income revenue for many businesses.
Global IP protection
Now the question „Is it possible to register my IP worldwide?“ arises. Yes, some issues would be easier to handle if such option existed, particularly in actual globalized market, but as we have mentioned, most IP rights are based on territorial principle and thus it was so far not possible for all countries to adopt a consenzus and establish global trademark, design or patent system.
However, there are international systems that help you obtain protection in more than one country with one application, with one fee system, but protection is granted separately for every single country or state. In other words, one state can grant you protection and one can refuse to grant it. Plus, neither of these systems can cover all the countries. Many countries are still not part of these international IP protection registration systems.
International IP protection
By international IP protection registration systems we mean those systems administrated by World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO). These are Madrid system for trademarks, Hague system for designs and PCT system for patents. Additionaly there are various regional IP systems which offer to register your IP in several countries. EU offers regional trademark and design system, African organisation ARIPO and also offers regional IP protection system and there are few others throughout the world. When thinking of expanding your IP rights to next country, you can use these international or regional systems in order to make your expansion most cost and time-effective. They have also various other benefits in comparisson to registration each of your IP right individualy in every country of interest.
You can contact us anytime so we can advice you on most suitable option for you.