Trademarks are territorial in nature. That is, a U.S. federal trademark applies across the U.S. only. Similarly, a trademark obtained from one of the U.S. states applies in that state only. Therefore, for trademark protection in other countries, a trademark application must be filed in each country. Fortunately, the U.S. is part of several treaties—chiefly, the Madrid Protocol which covers over 100 countries—that streamline and centralize the process for filing in multiple countries via a single “international application.” An applicant that files under the Madrid Protocol selects the countries (or, in some instances, group of countries such as the European Union) in which it seeks trademark protection and pays fees based on the selected countries. Once filed, the international application is examined by the government of each of the selected territories for registration within that territory.
Fundamentals of Trademark Law
A trademark is a word, symbol, slogan, or other identifier that identifies the source of a good or service in the marketplace. Trademarks are protected by law to prevent others from copying the source-identifying mark. This protection benefits a potential consumer by allowing the consumer to recognize a product or service as originating from a particular producer. In other words, trademarks allow a consumer to quickly associate a product with the company that produced it and make a purchasing decision based on prior experience with that company or product. Likewise, trademark protection benefits a producer by allowing a company to protect its investment in its reputation. If a company works hard and puts resources into providing a consistent and superior product, trademark law allows that company to prevent others from using its trademarks and selling products based on the trademark owner’s good reputation.
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