Using Trademarks to Protect Plant Varieties
Different kinds of Trademarks
Trademark protection can protect and restrict the use of the name of a plant variety you develop or a series of plants under an "umbrella" brand name.
Common Law Protection
Former British colony countries still have some forms of common law trademark laws in place which offers varying levels of protection without actual registering a trademark with an official national trademark office. Most people recognize common law trademarks by the "TM" symbol. This is one way to have trademark protection without paying government fees and/or attorney fee; however, not every country has the same type of common law rights and there are other limitations to consider, especially when comparing common law trademarks to registered trademarks.
National Registration Protection
Generally speaking, apply for a Registered Trademark affords you more legal protection. Registered trademarks are identified with the marking "R". An application may be filed with a national office as a "direct country" filing
Grouping Countries together through one primary application
Several countries may be grouped together through group filings. Some organizations like this method because they can file one application and the prosecution process can often be streamlined. Some countries will automatically grant approval if the trademark is accepted in another country and if the trademark passes through the public scrutiny process called "Publication" which is similar to a legal notice printed in a news paper where the public is informed of the mark and they can protest the mark. Someone may protest, if for example, they are using a similar trademark and they think that your trademark will create customer confusion.
A popular group application type is called the "Madrid Protocol" application. This application process is administered through the World Intellectual Property Office (often referred to as WIPO). Other regional global areas have their own "group" trademark, including Europe.
Some cite cost savings for group trademark filings but in this day of the Internet and global markets, it can be very challenging to think of a trademark that is unique enough to obtain registration throughout the world.
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www.InternationalPlantBreedersRights.com is a plant variety protection resource guide designed specifically for those in the horticulture industry and floriculture industry who are interested in protecting their plants in the global market. The details posted in this site are for information only to serve as a guide for effective business planning and implementation and does not serve as legal advice.
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