Expansion of products, product lines or services, or entering into new geographic markets with your products or services, present planning issues as well as opportunities for international brand protection. In an ideal scenario where the product development arc or the geographic market plan is known several years out with some certainty at the time of development of a new product or service, it is possible to plan for the entry into these new areas at the appropriate times. For example, ensuring that your selected trademarks will be available in foreign markets when you want them, to minimize the possibility you will show up in a new geographic market and not be able to use your brand. In some cases it may be desirable to rebrand for local market convention and again in those cases, having the appropriate IP protection in place so as to minimize business disruption from IP problems or risks is the preference for most businesses.
The issues associated with product line or brand extensions can include the fact that trademarks selected for use with that product line may have been available for your use on the existing or initial offering, but the expanded business may encounter previous users in the market in question such that your selected trademark or other IP position is not available to you.
Similar to risks and issues associated with brand extensions are the entry into additional geographic markets. IP rights are jurisdictional in nature and so it may be the case that your trademarks for example are not available in another country, or there may be patents that exist in a foreign market that block your entry in a way that is not anticipated from your knowledge of your domestic patent scenario. It is not possible to always perfectly plan for all of these scenarios, but again it is possible to take reasonable steps to minimize the possibility that IP risks will arise or inhibit the company.
In some cases with the benefit of lead time, your IP strategy can anticipate entry into new industries or markets, so that you do not need to do remedial or curative work on your IP portfolio as you enter these new areas. We can assist companies in the timing as well as the development of brand and market extension plans insofar as they impact your IP position. As well we can help to design the appropriate business workflow steps to integrate IP-related market and brand awareness issues into your day to day business operations.
It is not always possible to proactively plan and so some of the scenarios with which we assist clients are market or product extension scenarios with allegations of encroachment or infringement of third party rights.
Interested in exploring international protection for your brand? Let’s chat.