While protecting your intellectual property (IP) rights in the United States is fairly straightforward due to the clear regulations concerning patents, trademarks and copyright, real problems start when you try to enforce your rights abroad. Countries may be signatories of international intellectual property protection agreements, each regulates the actual protection differently. To make matters worse, each type of intellectual property may be regulated differently.

Get Started Protect your intellectual property Create IP documents and ask a lawyer your questions.

Is It Possible to Enforce Your Copyright Overseas?

While there is no common international copyright law, enforcement of copyright overseas is possible and even simple, as long as the target country is a signatory of the various international IP protection treaties, such as the Berne Convention or the TRIPS Agreement. Most signatory countries do not require registering copyrighted works, and confer protected status from the moment of creation. However, since everything ultimately depends on national regulations, you should always review the legal situation in the target country.

Do Patents Apply Outside the U.S.?

While copyright protection is automatic, the same does not apply to patents. A U.S. patent will only protect your IP within the territory of the United States. To exercise your rights abroad, you will have to file for a patent in the specific country. Note that you will require a United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) license to file for patents abroad, unless six months have elapsed since filing for the patent.

Is a Trademark Protected Outside the U.S.?

The situation is similar with trademarks. The United States is not a signatory of any treaty that would make a trademark filing automatically enforceable outside its borders. WhileU.S. law confers the benefits of trademark protection through prior foreign trademark registration, the situation will vary depending on the national laws in your target country. However, keep in mind that some countries simplify the trademarking process. For example, the European Union allows for the registration of a Community Trademark with the Office for the Harmonization of the Internal Market. This trademark is effectively protected by European international copyright law, enforceable across all member states.

Get Started Protect your intellectual property Create IP documents and ask a lawyer your questions.

Get Started Protect your intellectual property Create IP documents and ask a lawyer your questions.