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Most people, when asked what a trademark is, will turn around and call out the logos of various companies. The truth of the matter is that it is a mark that represents a business and it tells customers what kind of quality to expect from a product or service.
Global trademark management is often a complex issue and the rules of the game can vary from country to country. Let’s take a look at the 6 common mistakes of trademark management.
1. Once a mark is registered, it is forever protected
Mistake. Very often, it happens that different countries demand a regular fee payment for maintaining a trademark after it has been registered. Also, many countries have established rules about inactivity of use of a mark. So, if a mark is not constantly in use, it may become generic. Also, if you lose your trade mark in your own country, then it may have an effect on your registrations in all countries covered under the Madrid Protocol.
2. The ® mark can be used on packaging wherever we are registered
Mistake. The ® mark usually shows that a registered mark is being used. However, this can differ in various countries. The more intelligent way forward to ensure that the acceptable mark for a particular country is used. It could be TM or even RTM depending on the country. These symbols can indicate different rights in various countries.
3. If we use our trademark in commerce, we will own it globally
Wrong..there are some countries which grant some rights based on the commercial use of a mark. This can, however, depend on the rules governing trademarks in different countries.
In many countries just commercial use of a mark does not imply registration and not officially registering your trademark in such countries can leave your company vulnerable to infringement suits.
4. We can’t protect a mark not being used commercially
Mistake. Here’s the flip side to point 3. The Madrid Protocol does not mandate commercial use. So many of the countries which are a part of the Protocol also don’t. There are many others, and even some of the above countries, which have separate rules which will consider cancellation of a trademark registration due to non-use.
5. If we’re registered in some major countries, we can sell anywhere
Mistake. Even if countries are associated through trade agreements, registration only in a few major countries does not guarantee the right to use a trademark everywhere else. Also remember that in some countries, your trademark may need translation, especially where the language uses very different characters.
6. Trademark registration only protects our logo
Mistake. Your logo may be a unique mark but don’t underestimate the value of other unique marks that are recognised by many countries. This includes scent marks, word marks, colour marks, sound marks, etc. It may be worthwhile to consider registering these too depending upon the rules of the country you are registering in.