Over the past ten years, as I’ve been more involved in creating intellectual property, I’ve been especially concerned about protecting it, internationally. Depending on how you define a country, there are over 190 countries in the world. When working on intellectual property, there can be good and bad reasons to file for protection. When you file, the records are available to other people. They can and may attempt to use or file protection in other countries, possibly limiting your ability to enter that market.
When working on my company’s legal issues, some of which have international considerations, I’ve had difficulty finding attorneys with significant international experience. Often, I’ve been told that any issues in other countries will be best handled by an attorney in that country. This can be challenging, especially if people in the country don’t speak English often.
As I look to do more work internationally, I am going to need to become more familiar with international law.
According to Brown University’s website, international law is defined: “International law is broad in its conception and can be broken down into private and public sectors. In the private sector, specialists in international law may work in finance and trade divisions of multinational corporations. Familiarity with business essentials, as well as corporate law or intellectual property law would be helpful in this field. In the public international law, practitioners would work on cases that involve dealings between sovereign nations. Familiarity with comparative law or public international law would be most helpful for effective practice in this field. Both private and public international law are interdisciplinary in nature and would involve an understanding of the differences between common law and civil law systems across borders. Learn more at: International Law Association and American Society of International Law“
The challenges I’ve faced have been mainly with companies who have registered similar trademarks or just started using my trademark in other countries. We are fortunate in the United States to have some of the largest social media platforms in the world, spreading across the world and as people connect to that Internet they often go on those social networks to register their names. So, that is the first place to look when thinking about registering a new name for a company or brand. If you can’t get presence on social networks, you are running the risk that you will confuse customers and, by doing so, that could be the basis for a legal suit from another company.
While working with companies in Asia as a U.S. distributor, I ran into several interesting situations including import/export law and intellectual property issues. I’ll discuss these in more detail in future articles. I will also discuss my efforts to protect my own intellectual property and my experience working in other countries to find opportunities.