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

Many Canadian and American business advisers create a false sense of security in owners of online startups by telling them that their brand is automatically protected and that they shouldn't worry about trademarking.

What they mean is that both Canada and the United States recognize what's called "common law trademarks", that is unregistered trademarks that are granted a very limited scope of protection.

The problem with this advice is that most countries only recognize registered trademarks and couldn't care less about unregistered ones.

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The simple answer to the question is no. Most countries don't.

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

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, 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.

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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.

See our answers to other frequently asked questions about trademarks or leave your comments below!

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