Considering exporting your brand? Two questions should be asked:
- Will existing trade marks or other rights be infringed?
- Is the brand or trade mark available for registration overseas?
Australian brands make great exports. So it makes sense to consider international markets. The question of intellectual property infringement looms large in the minds of many exporters. Seizing of goods by customs and injunctions against sale are examples of the consequences of infringement. And having one brand for Australia and another for the United States, for example, is impractical and expensive.
The concerns can be addressed by adopting a distinctive trademark. Please read this article. The more distinctive a trade mark, the less likely it is that there will be conflicts with other trade marks. But you may already be set on a brand. Either way, you should consider searching.
A good start is a simple Google (registered trademark) search. It is possible to select regions with the “advanced search option.” This is important, because the location of your local server is known and the default is to get local results. Remember that any brands or trademarks that you find are only relevant for the same or similar goods or services in respect of which you are using or intend to use your trademark. So, if you discover similar brands, you need to check on the goods or services to which they are applied. Do call your trade mark attorney if you have any doubts.
There are a few free databases that are available. The Global Brand Database, hosted by WIPO is a good place to start. TESS, which is the public trade mark search portal of the USPTO, can be useful. However, the United States also has state trade mark registries. Professionals will be needed to search through those registers. For Europe, there is Tmview, which is a free-to-use database. At the time of this writing the portal boasted 46 million trade marks. However, we always recommend a professional search and an in-depth discussion with your trade mark attorney before launch. In fact, the best time to talk to your trade mark attorney is before you even select a brand.