If you plan on exporting, manufacturing or selling products in another country, you must prioritize protecting your intellectual property (IP). Every country works differently and has different challenges when it comes to IP protection, and you must make sure that you know about them to prevent someone from violating your IP rights. Apart from registering your IP in the country you want to do business in, you must have a good understanding of the country’s market and must choose your business partners carefully. That way, you’ll ensure no one else profits from using or copying your IP without your consent.
Register your trademark, patent or copyright
Registering your IP in the United States does not mean that you will also have protection worldwide. IP registrations are territorial rights, so you can only enforce them in the country they were granted. If you want to protect your IP abroad, you must register your trademark or patent in the country where you plan on doing business.
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a global patent, trademark or industrial design registration. However, you can protect your IP rights in many countries with a single application. This is possible thanks to the different international conventions for each type of intellectual property, such as:
- The Berne Convention for copyright rights
- The Madrid International trademark system
- The Hague International design system
- The International patent system
With these systems, you can protect your IP rights in many different countries by filing a single application. This would be useful if your business is large enough to expand to various countries. However, if you want to do business in a specific country, the best thing to do is register your IP directly in that country.
Know the Market
Once you register your trademark, you must do thorough research on the foreign country where you’ll market your product. Every country works differently, and you must understand the challenges each country has regarding IP rights. One way to learn about the opportunities and challenges in different foreign markets is by reading the U.S. Trade Representative’s annual Special 301 report. This report describes the state of intellectual property rights protection and enforcement in other countries. You can benefit from it by reading about the challenges and setting up a plan to ensure protection of your IP rights before entering the foreign market.
Ensure Good Business Partners
You’ll probably need a business partner in the foreign country where you plan on expanding your business. As your foreign business partner will have access to your assets and IP rights, you must choose them carefully. You must conduct your due diligence on anyone you want to work with, including buyers and distributors. When it comes to your business partners, you must make sure they don’t have any IP violations in the past. You can verify this information in the U.S. Commercial Service webpage. Also, make sure a lawyer helps you draft a licensing and subcontracting agreement before starting your operations with a foreign partner, buyer or distributor.
The Need for Protection
Protecting your intellectual property is essential if you want to enter foreign markets. By taking the proper steps and registering your IP, you’ll have the power to file a lawsuit if someone else copies or uses your IP rights without your permission. That way, you’ll be able to protect your company’s profits and reputation if someone violates your IP rights.