If you own a registered trademark in the U.S., you understand the importance of the legal protections provided to you and your brand. These protections, however, will only apply to legal disputes within the United States. In order to gain trademark protections internationally, you must register your trademark in the countries and regions where you currently do business and those where you may do business in the future. Because of its easy application process and broad coverage, an EU trademark may be something you want to consider. Here are 4 reasons to register your trademark with the European Union.
Why You Should Consider a Trademark Registration in the European Union
- It’s easy to register a trademark in the EU.
- The EU grants trademark rights on a first-to-file basis.
- The EU offers a large, diverse customer base.
- A trademark is a valuable asset.
It’s Easy to Register
The European Union offers one of the easiest processes to register a trademark. Instead of registering your trademark with each country individually, the EU allows you to file a single application in your home language to the European Union Intellectual Property Office, or EUIPO. Unlike a U.S. registration, there is no requirement to document use, either. If your trademark is approved, you will automatically gain legal protections in all 28 of its member countries.
The trademark registration process is quick, too. If the goods and services associated with your mark appear on the EUIPO’s harmonized database of preselected classes, you may be eligible to complete a Fast Track application, which typically reduces the registration time by 50 percent. However, even if you aren’t eligible for the Fast Track application, the process is fairly simple, and your mark can still be registered, even if a similar mark exists, so long as the owner of the existing mark does not oppose your registration.
EU Recognizes the First-to-File
Unlike the United States, which is a first-to-use country, the EU grants trademark rights on a first-to-file basis. This means that whoever files the trademark application first, whether they currently use the mark or not, are typically granted trademark protections. While this may benefit new businesses who wish to file a trademark they’ve created but have not yet put into use, it may also benefit those filing bad faith registrations. These occur when a person with ill intent knowingly registers a trademark that is in use, either locally or internationally, but not yet registered. Bad faith registrants do this with the goal to profit from others’ marks, either by selling counterfeit products or by ransoming the trademark to its rightful owner at a later date.
If any countries within the European Union are part of your international trademark plan, either now or in the future, you may want to consider an EU trademark registration as soon as possible. There are laws to deter bad faith registrations, and you may have a legal right to fight such a registration if you find one, but the process is long and costly. The best way to keep a bad faith registrant from gaining rights to your mark is simply being the first to register the mark with the EUIPO.
Strong and Diverse Customer Base
The European Union’s 28 member countries represent more than 500 million consumers, who import over $2 trillion in goods annually. No other single trademark application will allow you to reach more people. In today’s global economy, chances are you may already be doing business in the EU, or you will soon. Whether through manufacturing, distribution, or online sales, you will likely encounter a resident of the EU at some point. For that reason, it is wise to consider an EU trademark registration to gain legal rights before you find yourself in a trademark dispute across the Atlantic.
The population of the EU is not only plentiful, it is also diverse. The multicultural population, where over 60% are in the 15-65 age range, may become the perfect target market for a variety of businesses. In addition, much like the United States, the varying climates offer a wide range of consumer possibilities. Therefore, the likelihood that a customer base for your product or service exists somewhere within the European Union is extremely high. For this reason, it may make sense to include the EU in your international trademark plan.
It’s a Valuable Asset
As you grow your business, both in the U.S. and internationally, you’ll likely make many purchases, from web development to inventory. While these investments are critical to your company’s success, they probably won’t appreciate over time. A registered trademark, on the other hand, is a relatively low cost investment that actually increases in value over time. As your brand grows in value, so will your trademark. Whether you plan to sell your business in the future or not, investing in a trademark registration is a wise financial decision for your business.
A registered trademark can also be an effective marketing tool. Once you begin to use the ® symbol, customers will inherently view your brand with a higher level of legitimacy. This is especially important as you plan to begin marketing your U.S. product internationally. The exclusive rights offered to you as an EU trademark owner allow you to be in complete control of your brand as you introduce it to the European market. Knowing that your trademark is protected in 28 countries provides valuable peace of mind, as well, so you can focus on growing your business.
Creating an international trademark plan can be a challenging task. While the decision to register your trademark in the United States may have been an easy one, deciding where to go next may be less clear. Because of its easy application process and the fact that it recognizes trademarks on a first-to-file basis, it may be wise to consider an EU trademark registration. Once approved, you’ll have access to a large, diverse customer base while protecting your brand and growing your business.