International Trademarks Explained for US Trademark Owners

International Trademarks Explained for US Trademark Owners

Welcome to the world of international trademarks for US trademark owners, where boundaries blur, and opportunities abound. Join us on a journey through the intricacies of international trademarks specifically for US trademark owners, as we explore the benefits, challenges, and strategies for navigating this dynamic landscape.

From the basics of WIPO and the Madrid Protocol to the nitty-gritty of application processes and maintenance requirements, we’ve got you covered. So, buckle up, entrepreneurs, because the world is waiting for your brand to make its mark!

What is an International Trademark?

An international trademark is like a superhero cape for your brand, offering protection and recognition on a global scale. It’s a powerful tool that allows businesses to safeguard their brand identity, products, and services across multiple countries simultaneously.

Think of international trademarks as the VIP pass to the global marketplace. Instead of navigating the complexities of filing separate trademark applications in each country, businesses can opt for international trademark registration through various systems.

The Benefits of International Trademarks:

benefit of international trademarks
  • Global Reach: With an international trademark, your brand gains a passport to the global marketplace, opening doors to new opportunities and markets.
  • Cost-Effective Protection: Rather than splurging on multiple trademark applications, the international route offers a budget-friendly alternative, saving you time, effort, and resources.
  • Brand Consistency: Maintaining a consistent brand identity across borders is key to building trust and loyalty among consumers worldwide. An international trademark helps you achieve this seamlessly.
  • Legal Safeguard: Armed with a registered trademark, you can flex your legal muscles against infringers, protecting your brand from unauthorized use or imitation.

Navigating International Trademark Protection: Understanding WIPO and the Madrid Protocol

In the ever-expanding realm of international business, safeguarding your brand across borders is paramount. The Madrid Protocol is a streamlined approach, one managed by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), that enables trademark holders to secure protection in over 120 member countries and regional IP offices with just one application, one language, and one set of fees. Talk about efficiency!

The Role of WIPO

WIPO, or the World Intellectual Property Organization, is standing tall as a beacon of intellectual property rights, serves as the global authority for fostering innovation and creativity. With its headquarters nestled in Geneva, Switzerland, WIPO plays a pivotal role in harmonizing intellectual property laws worldwide.

WIPO & the Madrid Protocol

Unpacking the Madrid Protocol

Picture the Madrid Protocol as the conductor orchestrating the symphony of global trademark protection. This international treaty, administered by WIPO, offers a streamlined approach to securing trademark rights in multiple countries simultaneously.

The Madrid Protocol introduces the Madrid System, a centralized platform that simplifies the process of trademark registration for businesses operating across borders. Instead of navigating the labyrinth of individual applications in each country, trademark owners can opt for a single international application.

One of the Madrid Protocol’s most enticing features is its cost-effectiveness. By eliminating the need for separate applications and translations, businesses can save significant time and resources when expanding their trademark portfolio globally.

International Trademark: The Madrid Protocol & the USA

The Madrid Protocol offers a streamlined pathway for US businesses to protect their trademarks in multiple countries with ease. Instead of filing separate applications in each jurisdiction, companies can submit a single international application through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Let’s get into some of the perks:

benefits of international trademarks

Cost-Efficiency for US Trademark Owners

For US businesses, the Madrid Protocol presents a cost-effective alternative to traditional methods of international trademark registration. By centralizing the application process, companies can save both time and resources, making global expansion more accessible than ever before.

Simplifying Trademark Management

Under the Madrid Protocol, US trademark owners can manage their international registrations through a single platform. This centralized approach simplifies administrative tasks such as renewals, changes, and assignments, streamlining trademark management across borders.

Flexibility in Expansion

With the Madrid Protocol, US businesses have the flexibility to expand their trademark portfolios strategically. Whether targeting specific regions or entering new markets on a global scale, companies can adapt their international trademark strategies to suit their unique business objectives.

By leveraging the Madrid Protocol, US businesses gain access to key markets around the world without the logistical challenges of traditional trademark registration methods. This opens doors to new opportunities for growth and expansion on an international scale.

Enhancing Brand Protection

For US companies building brand equity and reputation, international trademark protection can be essential. The Madrid Protocol provides a robust framework for safeguarding brand assets globally, protecting against infringement and counterfeiting in diverse markets.

Understanding Outbound and Inbound Applicants in International Trademarks

When it comes to international trademark applications, two terms frequently pop up: outbound applicants and inbound applicants. Let’s break down the difference between these two categories to help you navigate the world of global trademark protection seamlessly.

Outbound Applicants

Outbound applicants are those who already possess a trademark application or registration in the United States and are looking to extend their trademark rights to other countries using the Madrid Protocol. In simpler terms, if you’re a US-based business with a trademark filed or registered domestically and want to expand your protection internationally, you fall under the category of outbound applicants.

Inbound Applicants

On the flip side, inbound applicants are individuals or businesses who hold a trademark registration in a country other than the United States and seek to secure trademark rights in the US using the Madrid Protocol. In essence, if you’re based outside the US and wish to apply for trademark registration within the United States, you’re classified as an inbound applicant.

We’re going to focus the rest of this post on folks that fit the outbound applicant profile as that’s 99% of TradeMark Express’ clientele.

Now let’s dive into the 8-step application process.

The Madrid Protocol Process for US Trademark Owners

When it comes to expanding your trademark rights internationally, the Madrid Protocol offers a streamlined process that can be a game-changer for your business.

Here, we’ll walk you through the 8-step outbound application process, outlining each stage to ensure a smooth journey towards securing your international trademark registration.

8 steps for an international trademark for US trademark owners

Step 1: Determine Eligibility through the USPTO

Before diving into the intricacies of the Madrid Protocol application, it’s imperative to ensure that the USPTO can serve as your office of origin for filing. Here’s what you need to consider:

Basic Requirement: Existing U.S. Trademark Registration or Application

To initiate the international trademark filing process, you must possess either:

an existing U.S. trademark registration


a pending U.S. trademark application

This serves as your “basic” registration or application, forming the foundation for your international endeavors.

basic trademark definition for international trademarks

To submit an international application through the USPTO, it’s necessary to fulfill certain eligibility criteria beyond possessing a U.S. registration or application.

These include “at least one of the following conditions:”

being a U.S. national

having a domicile address within the United States,

or maintaining a genuine and operative industrial or commercial establishment in the country

Failure to meet these prerequisites renders applicants ineligible for filing an international application through the USPTO. However, alternative avenues may exist for filing through another Madrid member provided the requisite conditions are met.

Timing Consideration for Pending Applications

If you’re relying on a pending U.S. trademark application as the basis for your international filing, exercise caution. The USPTO recommends waiting until you receive your first office action before proceeding with your international application. This ensures that any potential obstacles to registration in the United States are addressed, minimizing risks to your international registration.

Multiple Basics: Consolidating Applications for Efficiency

In certain scenarios, you may opt to utilize multiple U.S. applications or registrations as basics for a single international application. This consolidation can be advantageous, particularly if you aim to unify all relevant goods or services under a single international umbrella.

Key Points of Uniformity

It’s essential to maintain uniformity across all basic applications and registrations.

maintaining uniformity international trademark applications

The following must be identical in all basic applications and registrations:

Owner information


Trademark description

Color claim (if the trademark is in color)

Priority filing date”

You are eligible to claim a priority filing date for your international application if it is submitted within six months of filing your basic trademark application. The effective filing date of your international application will correspond to the date you filed your basic application at the USPTO, but only if your international application is received by the International Bureau within two months of its submission.

The Crucial Step Before Filing an International Trademark: Conducting a Trademark Search

We’re interrupting briefly to emphasize a vital detail – the absolute importance of conducting a comprehensive trademark search BEFORE filing an international trademark.

international trademark search definition

While it might seem tempting to rush into the application process, taking the time to have a thorough trademark search performed can save you from potential headaches and legal issues down the road.

Why is a Trademark Search Necessary?

  • Avoiding Conflicts: A trademark search helps you uncover existing trademarks that are similar or identical to yours. By identifying potential conflicts early on, you can steer clear of legal battles and costly disputes in the future.
  • Protecting Your Investment: Filing a trademark application involves time, effort, and money. Conducting a search beforehand ensures that you’re investing in a brand name that’s not already claimed by someone else, safeguarding your investment from potential rejection or opposition.
  • Maintaining Brand Integrity: Your brand is your identity, and protecting its integrity is paramount. A thorough trademark search helps you choose a distinctive and unique name that reflects your brand’s values and resonates with your target audience.
why conduct an international trademark search

How to Conduct an International Trademark Search

Professional Services: Consider hiring a trademark attorney or specialized search company to conduct a comprehensive search on your behalf. TradeMark Express has the expertise and resources to uncover potential conflicts that may not be readily apparent through online databases.

You can read more about our international trademark search services or contact us directly for a custom quote.

International Considerations: If you’re planning to expand your business globally, it’s crucial to conduct searches in each country where you intend to seek trademark protection. Partnering with professionals familiar with international trademarks can help ensure thorough coverage.

Before taking the plunge into international trademark applications, remember to prioritize due diligence by conducting a thorough trademark search. Investing time and resources in this crucial step can save you from costly legal battles and protect the integrity of your brand in the long run. Stay informed, stay proactive, and pave the way for a successful international trademark journey.

Step 2: File Your International Trademark Application

Once you’ve decided to expand your trademark protection globally AND your international trademark search cleared any hurdles, the next step is filing your international application. Here’s what you need to know:

To initiate your international trademark application, you must utilize the Trademark Electronic Application System International (TEASi). This system ensures a streamlined process for filing your application form.

Ensuring accuracy in your application is paramount. The information entered into the TEASi form must mirror precisely the details in the USPTO Trademark Status and Document Retrieval (TSDR) system. Even minor discrepancies can lead to the denial of certification.

There are 2 ways to go about this – prepopulated or manually:

Prepopulated Form Option

Opting for the “prepopulated” form within TEASi simplifies the process. If you refrain from altering any prepopulated text, the USPTO automatically certifies your application. However, making changes triggers a manual review.

You can’t use the prepopulated form if you are:

  • Using more than one basic application or registration for your international application.
  • Your basic application has not been fully loaded into USPTO systems yet. It may take up to 10 days for a newly filed U.S. trademark application to be loaded into [their] computer systems.
  • You recently filed a new assignment that is not yet reflected in the record.”

Manual Entry

If the prepopulated form isn’t suitable for your application, you’ll need to manually input your information. Ensure that you rely solely on the data from TSDR for your basic application or registration, as information from other sources may differ in format.

In your international application, designate at least one country for the extension of protection. Additional countries can be included through subsequent designations once your international registration is issued.

The International Bureau mandates the inclusion of email addresses for all applicants and representatives. Omitting these details can result in delays in the registration process, underscoring the importance of meticulous attention to application requirements.

Navigating the intricacies of filing an international trademark application demands precision and adherence to protocol. By following these steps diligently, you can pave the way for comprehensive trademark protection across borders.

Step 3: Fees for Your International Trademark Application

To kick off your international trademark application journey, you’ll need to take care of the necessary fees. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect:

international trademark fees

Certification Fee

The certification fee, payable in U.S. dollars, is the initial payment required by the USPTO upon filing your international application. It’s important to note that this fee is non-refundable, so ensure you budget accordingly before submitting your application. The certification fee must be made through the USPTO payment system.

International Fee

In addition to the certification fee, you’ll also need to cover the international fee, which is calculated in Swiss francs. While the USPTO suggests paying this fee directly to the International Bureau in Swiss francs after your application has been certified and forwarded, you do have the option to pay it through the USPTO in U.S. dollars at the time of filing.

The Trademark Electronic Application System International (TEASi) offers an estimate of the international fee, but it’s recommended to use the WIPO fee calculator to ensure accuracy due to currency exchange rates. Adjust the TEASi estimate as needed.

For more detailed information on Madrid fee payment options, be sure to check out the resources provided by the USPTO.

Step 4: Navigating Certification of Your International Trademark Application

Once you’ve submitted your international trademark application and paid the certification fee, it’s time for the USPTO to step in and review your submission.

Here’s what happens next:

The USPTO meticulously reviews your application to ensure it aligns perfectly with the information provided in your basic application(s) or registration(s). If everything matches up without any discrepancies, they certify your international application and forward it to the International Bureau for further processing.

However, if the USPTO spots any inconsistencies or discrepancies, they’ll issue a denial of certification. In this scenario, if you’ve paid the international fee through the USPTO, they’ll refund it to you, but unfortunately, the certification fee is non-refundable.

What to Do If Your International Trademark is Denied

Receiving a denial of certification notice doesn’t mean the end of the road for your international trademark aspirations. You have a couple of options:

  1. File a New International Application: Correct any outstanding issues and submit a new international application to address the discrepancies.
  1. File a Petition to Director: If you believe the denial of certification was unwarranted, you can file a Petition to Director to request a review. Keep in mind that a petition fee is required, and there’s no guarantee of a favorable outcome. It’s crucial to act swiftly if you choose this route.
What to Do If Your International Trademark is Denied

Step 5: The Review and Registration Process

After submitting your international trademark application, the International Bureau meticulously reviews it to ensure all necessary information is provided. If any issues arise, such as missing or incorrect details, they will issue a notice of irregularity. It’s crucial to promptly address these concerns by following the instructions provided in the notice.

Upon receiving a notice of irregularity, it’s essential to take action swiftly. Visit USPTO’s guidance page for information on how to rectify irregularities.

Once all issues are resolved, the International Bureau will issue your international trademark registration. Your registration will be published in the WIPO Gazette of International Marks, signaling official recognition of your trademark on a global scale. Additionally, the International Bureau will transmit your requests for extension of protection to the individual Madrid members you designated in your application.

Step 6: Examination by Madrid Members

After submitting your international trademark application through the Madrid Protocol, individual member countries conduct an examination based on their national trademark laws.

You can find detailed information about each country’s trademark laws on their WIPO Madrid member profiles page.

Many member trademark offices mandate that applicants be represented by a local attorney licensed to practice within their jurisdiction. It’s essential to comply with these requirements to ensure a smooth application process. Please note that the USPTO cannot provide assistance with any matters related to Madrid Protocol applications with foreign trademark offices.

Step 7: Expanding Your International Trademark Portfolio

Once you’ve obtained your international registration, the journey doesn’t end there. You have the opportunity to broaden your trademark protection by registering in additional Madrid members.

You have the choice to file subsequent designations directly with the International Bureau or through the USPTO. However, opting for direct filing with the International Bureau can help you avoid USPTO transmittal fees, saving you valuable resources.

Step 8: Maintaining & Renewing Your International Trademark Registrations

Ensuring the longevity of your international trademark registrations is vital for protecting your brand assets across borders. Let’s dive into the steps involved in maintaining and renewing your trademark registrations to safeguard your intellectual property effectively.

Understanding the Dependency Period

Your basic (USA) trademark registration or application and international registration are intricately linked for five years after the issue date of your international registration. This period, known as the dependency period, requires careful attention to maintenance requirements and deadlines for your basic (USA) registration.

During the dependency period, it’s imperative to adhere to maintenance requirements for your basic registration by filing necessary documents with the USPTO. Failure to do so can have dire consequences – if your basic registration is canceled or abandoned, your international registration and all extensions of protection will follow suit.

Renewing Your International Registration

To keep your international registration and extensions of protection intact, timely renewals are essential. Renewals for your international registration must be filed with the International Bureau within the specified timeframe. Additionally, any maintenance requirements for registered extensions of protection, such as proof-of-use filings, must be addressed directly with the trademark office in each designated Madrid member country.

For comprehensive information on post-registration procedures, including maintenance and renewal processes, refer to the outbound post-registration page on the USPTO website.

international trademark process for US trademark owners

To draw to a close…

the world of international trademarks offers boundless opportunities for businesses looking to expand their horizons and establish a global presence. By leveraging the power of WIPO and the Madrid Protocol, navigating the complexities of international trademark protection becomes more manageable and cost-effective.

However, it’s essential to approach this journey with diligence and attention to detail, starting with conducting a thorough trademark search and ending with maintaining and renewing your trademark registrations.

Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or a newcomer to the international business scene, TradeMark Express is here to guide you every step of the way. Don’t let borders limit your brand’s potential—take the leap into the global marketplace with TradeMark Express by your side. Contact us today to embark on your international trademark journey!

Ready to protect your international trademarks?

Contact TradeMark Express for expert guidance and support throughout the application process.
The information provided on this site is for general informational purposes only. All information on the Site is provided in good faith; however, we make no representation or warranty of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, validity, or completeness of any information on the Site. The Site cannot and does not contain legal advice. The legal information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Consult a licensed attorney for legal advice.

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