Are you considering expanding your business outside the U.S.? Are you launching an existing or new brand in other countries? A company that feels its brand equity can be extended to other countries should take the necessary steps to preserve and protect its rights to those brands outside the U.S. As trademark protection is generally on a country-by-country basis, it is important that you consider seeking protection in countries where you sell or provide goods or services or plan to do business.

Because of the global nature of business today, especially with online commerce and social media, it is important for a brand owner to control its trademarks beyond the U.S. While brands are increasingly global, managing and protecting brands globally can be complex. Understanding trademark regulations in each country is important before considering registering or using a trademark outside the U.S.

Any business contemplating international expansion should consider protecting its trademarks and brands early on. Unlike the U.S., which generally only extends trademark registrations to marks that are “in use,” trademark rights in many other countries are based on registration and the first to file a trademark application. As such, if you are launching a brand in the U.S. and have plan to eventually extend overseas, you should consider filing for trademark registration in other countries before someone can leverage the brand equity you established in the U.S. and file for the same trademark abroad.

Trademark pirates often watch for successful U.S. companies, and it can be a race to the trademark offices in other countries between a pirate and the trademark owners. This can result in an expensive and lengthy (and often unsuccessful) battle for trademark owners that may result in prohibiting the trademark owner from expanding and leveraging its brand identity in other countries. Unfortunately, trademark pirating is an increasing problem in some countries, but can be avoided by early registration both domestically and internationally.