If you have read and followed the approaches set out in this series of guides carefully, the IP you have developed in your business should be secure in your home market. However, any IP registrations that protect your competitive advantage in Singapore have no effect in overseas markets. The purpose of this guide is to help you understand and action the steps you need to take in order to ensure that your valuable IP is protected in any potential overseas market that you have identified for your company’s products or services.
In an increasingly globalised marketplace, your business will find itself trading alongside other companies that have their competitive advantage protected by IP rights. You need to be able to compete on level terms. While copyright is automatic and fairly consistently observed in most nations, almost every country around the world has its own patent, trade mark and design protection regimes, and you will need to make a suitable application in order for your IP to be protected to the same extent as it is at home.
Fortunately, thanks to a range of international conventions and agreements, particularly TRIPS (Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights), the Paris Convention, the Berne Agreement, the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) and the Madrid Protocol, a number of pathways exist to help you extend and enforce your IP rights in other countries. These make it easier to use your existing rights (whether granted or in progress) to obtain patents, trade marks, registered designs, copyright and related protection in the territories you need. They also provide a means to ensure your geographical indications, layout-designs (topographies) of integrated circuits and database rights will be respected. Not every country has signed every agreement though, so the rules are not harmonised everywhere.
Small companies with limited resources starting to export can find it particularly difficult to understand how to obtain and enforce IP rights in foreign markets, or which territories to prioritise. The type of protection that will be most important will depend on the strategy you adopt: this guide will show you what you need to consider.
When you are taking your company’s business operations overseas, there will be occasions where you will need to take legal advice either from an adviser in your home country or from a recommended contact in the target foreign jurisdiction. This will help you to avoid the pitfalls and reap the benefits!
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Episode 4 - Going Global (Moodware)