Trade Wars and Trade Marks – a timely reminder

April 12, 2018, By

Recent commentary has made much of the impending “trade war” between the US and China, largely the result of what Donald Trump claims is a concerted effort to protect US intellectual property rights. Whether this is in fact the case has proved the subject of much debate but the tit-for-tat dispute has just moved up a notch with the US administration announcing it would impose tariffs of 25% on nearly 1,500 products important from China. The Chinese government has responded by announcing a similar move of a tariff of 25% on over 100 items commonly imported from the US, including soybeans, cornflour, orange juice and whiskey.

The Trump administration claims that it is only responding to a sustained campaign of intellectual property theft carried out by Chinese companies against their US counterparts, supposedly at the behest of the Chinese administration. For its part, the Chinese government has stressed that IPR is the core of its strategy to become a global power and that for a country that has come such a long way in a relatively short period of time, the advances it has made in protecting IPR are impressive.

With both parties soon lobbying the World Trade Organisation to arbitrate the dispute, an end to the dispute certainly does not look near. It does however highlight the global nature of IP in the modern world and acts as a timely reminder that Intellectual Property is a territorial right and needs to be protected in each country in which you operate.

Briffa comment

Whilst copyright is largely protected worldwide through a number of reciprocal agreements (notably the Berne convention), trade marks are a territorial right that transform mere signs into valuable property around the world. They are also the most often the right that we see infringed.

Trade marks allow you a monopoly for use of that sign or word on identical and similar goods and are an invaluable aspect of protecting your brand. Trade marks and their corresponding registration systems have grown side by side with the development of international trade and the globalised economy and being conscious of your global portfolio is now more important than ever. We are able to assist you with either filing abroad from the get go or from expanding your current protection.

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