For any growing company, pursuing business ventures outside of their home country is a natural progression of their expansion. Once your business has begun to consider commerce across borders—or, perhaps, has already started investing in international pursuits—it is time to consider what protections are in place for the business name and branding elements that are working so diligently for you around the world.
International trademarks are an ideal way to ensure that your company name and products are safeguarded regardless of where in the world business is done. Just like American registrations, international trademarks are key players in preventing infringement by outside parties, and they are incredibly useful in helping to settle domain disputes, as well as many other potential advantages. Of course, the first step in securing these investments for your intellectual property portfolio is having a realistic idea of what such an endeavor may cost.
Madrid Protocol Filing Costs
One of the easiest ways to apply for a trademark in multiple countries at the same time is through the Madrid Protocol. This treaty allows one application to be submitted to multiple member countries simultaneously, eliminating the need for multiple versions of the application or your provision of different language translations. While not every nation in the world is part of the Madrid Protocol, the vast majority of them are; this results in the most streamlined filing option for a business pursuing business ventures abroad.
The fees for filing an international trademark application via the Madrid Protocol would be as follows:
1. Madrid Protocol fee: $740 (changes slightly due to exchange rates)
2. Individual country fees: $100-$850 per country (each country charges a filing fee, these fees vary country by country)
3. Legal Fees: $950+ (legal fees typically depend on exactly how many countries you file in)
As you can see, there are three “fee buckets” to consider. The first is the fee to just the Madrid Protocol system. The second is the fees for individual countries themselves. Finally, there is the legal fees for the preparation, filing and tracking of the application.
Direct Filing (via Local Attorney) Costs
There are some cases where the Madrid Protocol may not be a good option for international trademark filings. For example, if you only need to file in 1 or 2 countries, the cost of filing directly via a local attorney could be less than using the Protocol.
The cost of filing a direct trademark application in any given country via a local attorney are about $1500-$2500. The cost will vary country by country (depending on the filing fee) and will vary depending on how much service and time you need from the local attorney.
It is typically not possible to file trademark applications yourself in a foreign country. That said, many United States trademark attorneys (such as ourselves) have existing relationships with these local attorneys to assist in making these filings quick and easily.
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European Union Trademark Filing Costs
Another strong option to consider when filing internationally is to file an “EUTM.” An EUTM (European Trademark) is one trademark registration that covers all EU member countries. Of course, with the exit of the United Kingdom from the EU, the appeal of an EUTM is slightly diminished, nevertheless, the cost of the filing on a per country basis is perhaps the least expensive in the world.
The initial filing fee for a trademark application in the EU is about $990 USD for a single-class application (depending on exchange rates). An application with two classes would add approximately $61, and each additional class thereafter would be another $183. It is common for local attorneys in the EU to charge $600-$800 to assist with the filing (on top of these filings costs).
Legal Fees for International Trademark Filings
As noted above, legal fees are typically a significant portion of the costs of filing trademarks around the world. Though it may be tempting to forego hiring an attorney in order to keep costs low, it is to your advantage to make the upfront investment in trademark counsel to prevent costly mistakes down the road.
Trademark applications are nuanced, intricate legal documents, especially if they are not in your first language, and errors can result in delayed registrations or even a refusal of the application. Furthermore, a trademark attorney is able to perform a clearance search in the country you wish to file prior to submitting your application, which can help you understand the risks surrounding the mark you have chosen in any given country. If needed, this allows you the time to make modifications, therefore eliminating costly opposition proceedings down the road.
An attorney also has the experience and connections to navigate through a foreign country’s application process—their professional relationships with international counsel and other attorneys around the world equips your application for success and gives you the best possible chance of obtaining your desired trademark.
If you would like help determining the next steps for your trademark portfolio, need advice about the Madrid Protocol filing process, or would simply like to review your options internationally, please contact an attorney at Gerben Intellectual Property for a consultation today. With experience filing applications around the world and dozens of successful international registrations, Gerben IP is ready to help you expand globally.