Intellectual Property Attorney

Target Corporation: A Case Study In Trademark Territoriality

We’ve discussed before (here) the fact that trademark rights are territorial. In other words, trademark rights, acquired by virtue of a federal trademark registration and/or use in commerce in the United States, end at the United States border. Likewise, trademark use and/or registration in a foreign country does not afford any trademark rights in the United States.

The “Target” trademark is a case in point. According to an article in the Star Tribune, an Australian store also uses the name “Target,” along with a distinctive red bulls-eye logo that is virtually identical to the one used by the Minneapolis-based retailer, as well as the same “Get More, Pay Less” slogan. However, the two companies have no relationship with each other. You might think that the U.S retailer would have sought to stop the Australian store’s use of its distinctive trademark, logo and slogan. But that’s not the case. The two companies have actually co-existed for years, each one mindful to stay out of the other’s territory.

Multi-national companies should consider registering their trademarks in each country where the company does, or intends to do, business. Before embarking on an overseas expansion, it’s also important to conduct a thorough trademark clearance search to avoid potential issues down the road. An experienced trademark lawyer can advise on ways to minimize the costs of a multi-national trademark clearance search and registration program.

It should be noted that, as discussed here, unlike trademarks, copyright rights do extend throughout every country that is a member of the Berne Convention.

Share Button
Grimes LLC