Company development and the interdependence of economies leads to increasing commercial and knowledge exchanges abroad. Intellectual Property rights are key to this process.
The ideal conditions for internationalisation occur when the target area is a democracy – particularly one with an efficient legal system-, with political and regulatory stability, respect for property, including intellectual property rights, one which facilitates competition, suitable infrastructures, a reasonable and predictable tax system, professional qualifications and public safety.
Within the forecasts for presence abroad and specifically in order to aim for security, all issues relating to a companys rights over its products and its forms of marketing should be a priority. Its innovations, its trademarks… in short, its Intellectual Property rights
The key aspects of an internationalisation plan go from identifying suitable markets, assessing demand, looking for local partners and distribution channels, adapting the product to the target market (brand, design, packaging, advertising…), price policy, logistics, participation in trade shows and events etc.
For all of these it is necessary to consider that our product has legal patents in the target country which allows us to manufacture and sell. This will condition negotiations with partners, distributors, the price etc. The same can be said for the trademark or trademarks that we use in foreign markets and even the design and presentation of the products, the contents which we present on the Internet, which must also be protected, and the respect for the rights of others.
The most common errors are: believing that protection is universal when it is only national in those countries in which we have applied for it and obtained it, thinking that legislations in this area are the same, not verifying trademark registrations in the target country, not using regional protection systems which save us costs and paperwork, applying for protection too late (usually when we are already there), disclosing information without previous protection measures, infringing the rights of others, not clarifying ownership to the local partner or distributor, negotiating licenses without protection, using marks or designs which are not suitable for local use and attending trade shows or events without protection of Intellectual Property rights.
There are also risk factors such as limited awareness of offences in some countries, difficulty in applying legislation if the company is not fully protected, gaps in legislation etc. In addition we should consider possible infringements by our local allies.
Whether we carry out direct exports, or whether we sell indirectly through an intermediary, or through a mixed company if regulation and our interests allow it, or even through a franchise, it will be necessary not only to correctly register patents, utility models, trademarks, designs, Internet domain names etc, but also to have an overall vision so that we can establish an Intellectual Property policy in our international relations because simple registrations may not themselves be enough.