Trademarks are tools to protect the reputation and goodwill of your brand. Any sign unique to your business may be registered as a trademark. The most commonly registered marks are words, logos and slogans. Trademarks give you rights in the country or territory where you register. For companies trading in UK or Europe, the first step will be to apply for a UK or EU trademark. Those businesses that purely trade in this country will just want to register a UK trademark. For example if you run a restaurant and have no intention of franchising your business in other countries, the UK is the only country that is relevant to you.
If you later decide to extend the scope of your trademark to other countries, it is possible to use your base UK trademark registration as the first step towards registering in other countries. You extend your UK registration to other countries, by designating your desired countries in a Madrid Protocol application. That is, if your desired countries are party to the Madrid Protocol.
It’s worth noting that if for any reason someone is able to successfully apply to revoke your base registration (that is, your UK or EU trademark) the effect will be that any other registrations you may have in other countries worldwide which were based on that trademark will also be revoked. A trademark is generally not capable of being revoked after it’s been on the registers for 5 years, except on various grounds, such as for non use.
A UK trademark is therefore, a more solid basis for a Madrid Protocol application as an EU trademark. This is because it is less vulnerable to “central attack” than an EU one where a prior registration in a single EU country could result in the loss of the entire EU registration.
Therefore, if you want to register in several countries worldwide, including within the EU, it may make more sense, and be a safer option to apply for a UK trademark first, and then to apply for EU protection and other countries by using a Madrid system application.
If you are thinking of trading internationally (for example, via an ecommerce site) and wanted to start with a UK trademark registration it may be worth having a trademark search to find out whether anyone has better rights to the brand name in those other countries before you settle on a name.
As trademarks owners will be able to prevent others from using similar names to their trademark you would potentially have to trade in different brand names in other countries if your chosen name were not available in all your desired countries.