FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS Do All Countries Protect Unregistered Trademarks? (Common-Law Trademarks)

You may have heard the terms “unregistered trademark” or “common-law trademark” before. And you may be wondering what these are, and if they have any legal protections in countries around the world. If that’s so, watch this video to answer all your questions.


Do All Countries Protect Unregistered Trademarks? (Common-Law Trademarks)

A common question is whether or not countries recognize and protect unregistered trademarks. The simple answer to the question is no. Most countries don't.

There are a few countries where unregistered, or so-called common-law trademarks, are given some limited protection. Among them are Canada, the U.S., the United Kingdom, and a few others. But that's not the rule in the rest of the world.

What Is an Unregistered Trademark?

An unregistered trademark is exactly what it sounds like: it is a mark that is used by a company or brand, but that is not an officially registered trademark. For the most part, the owner of an unregistered trademark has little to no protection against others using the same mark. In some jurisdictions, they are able to file a cease and desist order if somebody else begins to copy and use their unregistered trademark. But the protections are severely limited when compared to those for registered trademarks.

Protection for Unregistered Trademarks

So there, unless you have filed and registered your trademark, you have no protection for your brand at all. So don't rely on how famous your brand is, don't rely on whether you have a lot of sales in those countries. That's not going to help you to stop other people from trademarking your brand or even stopping you from using your own brand there.

So, if you go outside of common-law countries, the answer is very simple: you must protect your brand there, and you must register your trademarks there to be protected.

But you know what? Even in common-law countries, where there is some limited protection to common-law or unregistered trademarks, if you value your brand, if you think your brand is a valuable asset, you must register that as a trademark as well. There is no real benefit to leaving your trademark unregistered. And once you file to register your trademark, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.


Disclaimer: Please note that this post and this video are not and are not intended as legal advice. Your situation may be different from the facts assumed in this post or video. Your reading this post or watching this video does not create a lawyer-client relationship between you and Trademark Factory International Inc., and you should not rely on this post or this video as the only source of information to make important decisions about your intellectual property.