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The High Price of Failure for Intellectual Property Protection

Entrepreneurs now enjoy fewer barriers to market than ever before.

With just a few clicks of a mouse, the purchase of a domain name, and the building of a website, any business can be up and running in a matter of minutes. Throw in some online advertising, and you can be profitable by dinner time!

Thus, it is both an exciting and nerve-wracking time to be protecting brands; no one can afford to rest on his or her laurels. Large companies and small businesses alike now need to obtain and maintain trademark protection, and regularly monitor those marks as well.

Thanks to an abundance of social media participants and influencers, the term "overnight success" is no longer a meaningless expression. Whether a celebrity tweets about your brand, or a customer makes an entertaining Facebook video, products can quickly go viral in today's marketplace.

For businesses and trademark owners, this is both good news and bad news.

In this article, we'll review the most important factors of protecting your company trademarks in our digital era. However, before we begin, let's look at an example of how quickly brand notoriety can now change online.

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Breaking The (Nice) Class Barrier

2016 marked the 125th anniversary of the Madrid System of application for International trademarks and as though in celebration, the number of applications exceeded 50,000 for the first time last year. According to the Madrid Yearly Review 2017, this growth of 7.2% in applications is the largest yet recorded. The trend towards positive figures continued as provisional refusals also fell by 1.2% for the first time since 2011, although a significant number of applications still fall at the first hurdle.

One of the major contributing factors to difficulties with international trademark applications is the indication of goods and services. In March of this year, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) released a guide to clarify the international standards for indicating goods and services and how they are viewed during the examination process. Some of the difficulty arises where the requirements for a domestic application differ significantly from that required under the Madrid examination. 

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