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Can someone file for the same trademark in another country?

A U.S. trademark registration does not block others from filing for that same trademark in a foreign country. As such, others can register your U.S. trademark in a foreign country. This foreign filing is possible because trademark rights are generally territorial, meaning they are valid within the borders of the country where they are registered. If you've successfully registered a trademark in your home country, it provides protection only within that jurisdiction. If you have a U.S. trademark registration, you should consider filing applications for the same trademark in any foreign country where you may do business. To secure similar protection in another country, you must file a separate trademark application in that jurisdiction. 

There are two primary routes for filing a trademark in another country: individual application filings and international application filings.

How is an individual application for a trademark filed in a foreign country?

Individual foreign trademark filing involves submitting separate trademark applications to the intellectual property office of each country where protection is sought. While this approach provides flexibility, it can be time-consuming and expensive and requires compliance with each country's unique filing requirements.

Once your trademark application is filed in a foreign country, it will be examined and prosecuted based on existing trademark registrations in that country.

How is an international application for a trademark filed?

Many countries participate in international trademark systems. The Madrid System and the Madrid Protocol allow trademark owners to file a single international application to protect their mark in multiple member countries. This centralized approach simplifies the administrative burden and can be a cost-effective option for expanding trademark protection globally.

When filing an international application, you must designate at least one member country where the trademark will be filed. Once the formalities of the international application are approved, the application will be examined and prosecuted in that foreign country based on existing trademark registrations within each of the designed member countries.

What if someone else in a foreign country has already filed for a similar mark?

It is essential to file a foreign trademark application in the U.S. and foreign countries as soon as possible. Many international systems allow for a priority claim, enabling applicants to benefit from the filing date of their original application. This priority claim can be crucial in securing rights in competitive markets. To benefit from a U.S. priority date, an applicant must file foreign applications within six months of the U.S. filing date and have those foreign applications include a "priority claim" to the counterpart U.S. application. A US applicant may still file foreign applications after the six months but cannot claim priority to the U.S. filing date. Therefore, if you have a prior U.S. trademark filing, your earlier U.S. filing date allows you to backdate your foreign trademark applications, thereby beating the filing dates of third parties attempting to register your mark.

What other issues should be considered when filing abroad?

Yes, there are other important considerations. Each country has its own set of rules and regulations regarding trademark registrations. Also, some countries may require documents to be submitted in their official language, which will require translation services.

Do you need to protect your brand in the U.S. and/or abroad?

Expanding your trademark protection internationally is necessary for businesses looking to operate globally. While the process may seem complex, understanding the options available and seeking professional guidance can help you successfully navigate the nuances of international trademark filing. Protecting your brand globally is an investment that can pay off in the long run, safeguarding your intellectual property across borders. 

To discuss obtaining international trademark protection, contact TCP Law by email at or John Laurence by phone at 917-612-1059.


John Laurence TCP Law, Trademark Patent Copyright Lawyer

TCP Law focuses on helping individuals and businesses develop, secure, and enforce their intellectual property rights.

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