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Preparing for international trademark disputes

Jul 15, 2020 | Trademark

The protection of a trademark can be essential to the success of any company. That protection continues to be necessary as a business expands operations to other countries.

However, legal complications can arise when it comes to protecting intellectual property internationally. Preparing for potential obstacles allows a business owner to be proactive and plan accordingly.

The rules may be different

Despite efforts to harmonize global IP laws, many nuances remain in laws and legal processes from country to country. As a business owner, it’s likely you don’t have the capacity to stay on top of those nuances, which is why legal counsel with a focus on international IP law is critical for a company doing business globally.

Further, you may not have the same protections in another country if you have not registered your trademark in that country. To protect your IP and prevent disputes in the first place, be sure you register in every country in which you are selling your product or service. Depending on the country and your current application status, you may have to file separate applications or, you may be able to file a single international application.

It can be a lengthy process

International trademark lawsuits can be particularly complicated, which means that they can take a long time to be resolved. For instance, a Chinese appeals court recently ruled on a trademark infringement dispute between U.S. clothing company Under Armour and Uncle Martian, a Chinese company, four years after the initial filing in 2016.

According to reports, Under Armour won the first judgment in 2017. Later that year, Uncle Martian appealed the court’s decision, and the appeals court took another three years to return another judgment, again siding with Under Armour.

There are likely alternatives to litigation

Depending on the country involved in a dispute, there may well be options to settle the case outside of court utilizing alternative dispute resolutions (ADR). There are numerous benefits to ADR, including confidentiality, a neutral legal setting, and a simplified process that typically does not allow for appeals.

That said, ADR is unlikely to be a good option for contentious, uncooperative parties. Under these circumstances, litigation may be preferable.

International intellectual property disputes can require a bit of extra analysis, and a trained eye to help spot potential issues. As IP laws continue to be harmonized across the world our trademark attorneys and litigators are keeping tabs on the various changes in key markets around the world.  Our team can help you position your company to enter global markets with confidence.

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