What is the first-to-file trademark rule?

Photo of Jan Buza

Written by Jan Buza

Co-founder of Trama

According to the first-to-file principle, the owner of the mark who first files their application with the IP office has priority over anyone using the same/confusingly similar mark on the same market. Moreover, the owner has priority over anyone who wishes to register identical/confusingly similar marks for identical/similar goods and services within the same country. This rule applies even if a third party claims prior use of the trademark.

In first-to-file systems, the date of filing holds more importance than the first date of commercial use. For this reason, it is crucial to file your trademark application as soon as possible, even if you are not commercially active yet.

In general, the majority of countries adopt the first-to-file system. Countries that adopt this system include the EU, the UK, Brazil, China, Japan and others. Only a small percentage of countries adopt the approach based on first-to-use rights.

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