How to obtain global intellectual property protection?
Living in an era of digitalization, the world is no longer restricted by geographic boundaries.
Working as a global village, we not only share information, but also products and services through effective trade practices.
Things that are manufactured in any part of the world are easily available to others.
The World is experiencing fast communication speeds and unlimited freedom of sharing information between countries.
For this reason, entrepreneurs and their companies should always work towards protecting their Intellectual Property Rights.
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Why Is International IP Protection Vital for Businesses?
Small and medium-sized businesses in any country face fierce competition from international companies, especially in their startup phases.
The innovative ideas and competitive competencies act as a foundation for these companies.
They can easily be imitated and copied by various players in the international markets.
Business owners and entrepreneurs should counter the adversities resulting from the unlawful acts of these global copycats.
And that can be done by ensuring that they protect their Intellectual Property globally.
You cannot assume that the protection you have in one country will be sufficient to safeguard your business interest in all others as well.
Many historic corporate incidents have proven that globalization can be as lethal for a business entity as it is beneficial for its profitability.
Its impact is not restricted to big businesses only. Small and medium-sized companies are prone to similar damages of much higher intensity and severity.
International copycats often force small companies to ultimate closure by producing the same products and services at much cheaper rates.
They may flood the market with replicas of your products and grab your share of the market.
With the ingress of globalization and e-commerce in almost all walks of life, the long-term survival and growth of a business entity cannot be possible if it does not enter the international markets.
Sooner or later every business has to deal with global competition.
In such a scenario, you want to protect your IP and safeguard your company’s competitive advantage in the market.
And, to do that, you need to obtain global intellectual property protection.
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Obtaining Global IP Protection for Your Company
Through this article on How to Obtain Global Intellectual Property Protection, we aim to guide and educate small business owners.
Our objective is to inform emerging entrepreneurs about international intellectual property issues.
There are different types and formats of intellectual property in the corporate world.
Depending upon the nature of business and industry, intellectual property may include copyrights, trademarks, and patents.
Large companies often have a bigger portfolio of IP which they have created and use intelligently as their most advantageous competitive competency.
In contrast, small and medium-sized companies often take several years just to realize that their IP is a major contributor to their business success. And that it needs to be protected from competition.
For long-term growth and success, startup companies and small business entities should proactively seek protection for their IP.
And, this should be done in the very early stages of the business lifecycle.
Having secure IP protection both domestically and globally can give you the strength to fight international competitors more dynamically. Even though it costs you money and effort,
International IP protection is governed and regulated by the various treaties signed between different countries of the world.
If the country of operations and the market you want to serve is a signatory of such a treaty, you can get effective global protection for your trademarks, patents, and copyrights.
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Steps To Obtain Global Intellectual Property Protection
Here are the basic steps that you can take as a business entity to obtain Global Intellectual Property Protection.
Step 1: Identify the IP Protection Requirement
The first step is to determine the exact need, location, and format of IP protection that is required for your specific business entity.
Any IP protection that is obtained for one country or location is specific to that place only.
In most countries, Intellectual Property Rights like trademarks and patents are domestically enforceable rights.
They are created and enforced by the local or federal government and legal systems.
For seeking global IP protection you must identify the location or place of your market, and then file for IP protection in that targeted country.
Countries are often under trade agreements with other nations of the world.
These agreements might be bilateral (single location) or international (global).
In many such international trade and commerce agreements, IP protection laws applicable in one participant country are also effective in others.
So, before applying for global IP protection, gather information about the target country and its international agreements with your business’ origin country.
Step 2: Gather Relevant Information about Target Country’s IP Protection Laws and Requirements
The next step in obtaining global IP protection for your small business entity or startup is to gather all information about the formal procedure of IP protection in your selected country.
List down all the requirements and collect the documents needed to fulfill your basic criteria.
The legal procedures, processes, and prerequisites of getting IP protection vary from one country to another.
One common requirement for applying requires your company to have domestic IP protection before seeking an international one.
This means that if your company has a trademark, patent, or copyright in the original country of operations, then you can apply for another country as well.
In that case, you’ll need to gather all the relevant information on how to obtain global intellectual property protection.
Step 3: Complete the Documentation and Form Filling
Once you have all the forms and requirements in hand, you can formally fill in all the necessary information and data.
If you do not have domestic IP protection, first start with that. Upon completion, you can apply for international IP protection as well.
Step 4: Form Submission to WIPO
Submit the duly completed forms along with all the required documentation to the designated authority of the given country. Or the International Bureau of World Property Intellectual Organization or WIPO.
Your company will have to pay the necessary charges or IP fees to start the process formally.
This fee, like the process, will depend on the country you are seeking to get IP protection in.
The laws, requirements, and charges of IP protection vary tremendously from location to location.
If your country is not part of a trade treaty or agreement, you will have to apply directly to that country’s trade bureau or IP authority.
Step 5: Pursue with Legal Follow Up
In some cases, upon gathering information or filing for IP protection you find out that your IP has already been infringed on in the target country.
Such scenarios would require you to follow a legal course of action to file suit and get the specialized assistance of an International IP attorney.
This will only be possible if you have opted for IP protection in that specific country.
Step 6: Get Specialized Help
If you find this entire process hectic, time-consuming, and difficult to understand, it is best to hire professionals for the job.
There are many IP-related companies and attorneys that provide specialized services to their clients for obtaining global IP Protection.
You and your business can also opt for hiring an IP consultant who can educate or guide you through the entire process.
Indulge in thorough discussion and information sharing with the prospective expert before finalizing the contract.
And, take the time to understand how to obtain global intellectual property protection.
When Should You Opt for a Legal Lawsuit to Counter IP Infringement?
Filing a lawsuit for a small or medium-sized business in a new country may not be as simple as it sounds.
With all the obstacles and challenges, it can also cost you lots of money and time.
Additionally, your brand might attract negative publicity as well.
A legal pursuit could be avoided if the IP infringement in the foreign country is not impacting your profitability.
This is especially true if you are operating and plan on operating locally in a market with no global activities.
If someone is even using your trademark or brand name in a foreign country, it may not necessarily impact your domestic returns.
It is wiser to think and weigh your options in terms of money, time, and effort.
International Protection of Different Intellectual Property Formats
Here is a brief description of the protection of different IPs in the International Markets.
Global Trademark Protection
There are two basic methods to opt for global trademark protection for your business.
- File individual IP protection applications for the trademark in all the countries you want.
- Make use of the WIPO System and look out for effective treaties for your country of origin.
Global Utility Patents Protection
Patents are territorial IPs and so there is currently no system to obtain global patent protection.
There are two methods to protect your utility patents in international markets:
- File individual applications for the utility patents in each country you want to target.
- File an international application enforceable by the Patent Cooperation Treaty which is under the administration of WIPO.
Global Design Patents Protection
Design patent protection varies from one country to another.
You should first search for the requirement prevalent in the target country’s IP system and then apply for a design patent under their industrial laws.
In the US, for instance, you will file a design patent application to the USPTO.
Upon due compliance, this authority will forward the application to the WIPO for further progress.
Global Copyright Protection
Currently, there are no specific international laws or systems to provide International copyright.
Copyright protection requires active efforts and following the national local laws of all the countries you plan to target.
International trade treaties and agreements often have clauses related to copyright protection between participant countries.
You should analyze these relevant treaties and look out for the laws and enforceable legal options to effectively protect your company and work.
Based on that information, you’ll work out how to obtain global intellectual property protection.
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Advantages of Intellectual Property Protection at a Global Level
Lawful enforcement of IP protection in any country is very advantageous for the businesses operating there.
Additionally, the presence of effective IP laws and regulations is also beneficial for the other stakeholders of the business system.
Being a valuable asset to any company, protecting IP rights is necessary both domestically and internationally because of the following benefits.
- IP protection helps promote the creation and sustenance of high-quality jobs
- It gives a boost to competitive growth and greater economic activity
- Strong IP protection systems help safeguard the interests of consumers and their families
- By ensuring the safety and security of your designs and ideas, it promotes innovation and breakthroughs
- It helps in effectively countering global challenges of competition
- IP protection ensures that appropriate reward is available to the deserving entrepreneur and their investors
The global economy today comprises both developed and developing countries.
Innovation and technological breakthroughs are now driving the growth and speed of the business world.
Powered by creativity and knowledge, every organization and entrepreneur has a strong desire to protect all types of their intellectual property assets from theft, infringement, and copycats.
To maximize global innovation and promote cross-border commercial activities, there is a strong need to strengthen the international protection laws for these IP rights.
World Intellectual Property Organization or WIPO is a leading contributor and supporter of these global protection solutions.
They provide expert knowledge and valuable resources of information to enable companies in enriching their strategic-natured IP issues.
Emerging small companies and young business owners should leverage their valuable assistance to get educated.
And improve their chances of survival in the challenging world of international corporate competition.
Today, no business can survive in the long run, without growing and expanding into the international markets.
So, even if your business is small-sized, give due importance to your intellectual property assets and protect them to safeguard the future of your company.
Allocate time to understand how to obtain global intellectual property protection.
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Note this article is for informational purposes only and you should consult with your lawyer for proper legal guidance.