We know from our wide international reach that whatever industry you’re in, there’s going to be potential to expand the scope of your business. Reaching new countries can be an exciting, and daunting prospect, and there are some essential steps you should be considering make sure the transition is seamless, and maintains the integrity and consistency of your brand.
Work out your expansion strategy
The world may be your oyster, but there is no such thing as global IP protection. Obviously you can protect your brand name anywhere in the world, but we think you can probably spend £500,000 in better ways. Think about where you want to go in the next 3-5 years and make a list. Order the list in terms of priority.
Consider if you’re going to be providing the same range of product or offering the same services as you do in your home territory. It might be that you only want to provide your core offering. Are there trade restrictions to providing certain goods/services? Can you get the right partners in place to make things work overseas?
Clearance searches are essential. You need to determine if third parties may have rights ahead of you which could prevent you from using the mark in the territories of choice. Consider whether your mark has any significance or alternative meaning overseas – you might have to reconsider the brand if that meaning is offensive, inappropriate or immoral. Be aware that you might need to take local advice on the searches – but a good international Brand Management team can coordinate this for you.
Consider filing strategies. Depending on places of interest, you might be able to take advantage of the international registration system, administered by WIPO. For trade marks this provides an incredibly straightforward way to apply for protection in a wide range of countries, is more budget friendly and efficient.
Licensing – consider whether you have the right permissions from any suppliers or partners in place to provide your products or services outside your domestic territory. Are you giving downstream partners the right permissions to use your mark or product design overseas?