For many businesses, branding plays a vital role in their success. A recognizable brand that consumers can trust helps companies grow and expand, while also granting staying power as the business moves up the industry ranks. As companies have expanded internationally, branding power has only increased in importance, leading many businesses to spend large amounts of resources on the brand. With these large investments, companies view legal protections, such as trademarks, as an extremely important issue when doing business in a country, or when looking at prospective countries to enter.
Trademarks are designed to protect words, phrases, or symbols used to identify the source of a product from one business to another. Trademark laws and regulations vary from country to country, so for international businesses, attention to detail is a must. Businesses often look to register their brand not only in the countries that they currently do business in, but also countries they see as possible future markets for growth. One way to do this is through the Madrid System, which allows a business to file their brand internationally in 96 participating countries. The system is maintained and enforced by the World Intellectual Property Organization, and greatly eases the burden on businesses by forcing only one application in one language, instead of applying in each country separately.
In the age of technology and the internet, trademark and intellectual property laws have become very important to international business. Companies on opposite sides of the globe can now compete head to head against each other, substantially increasing the negative effects of a foreign business stealing your brand. Filing for trademarks internationally gives businesses the legal standing to fight companies looking to capitalize on an already established brand. Filing also helps companies establish a brand strategy, which is crucial when looking to expand a business internationally.