May 12, 2014

Live from Hong Kong: 7-11, McDonald's, and Apple

Trademarkology is coming to you live from Hong Kong today! I'm attending the International Trademark Association Annual Meeting in Hong Kong, and it has been quite an experience so far. While most of my week here has involved rushing around to meet with associates and attend seminars, I've also been trying to experience the local flavor. This includes not only sampling jellyfish, sea cucumber (which is not actually a cucumber), and goose feet, but checking out the local brands.

You might be surprised to know that what we may think of as "American" or "Western" brands are quite prominent here in Hong Kong. The top 10 that I've seen so far include:

1. 7-11

2. Apple

3. McDonald's

4. Starbucks (thank goodness! How would I survive the week without Starbucks?!)

5. Subway

6. Burger King

7. Tiffany & Co.

8. Circle K

9. JW Marriott

10. Hyatt

I'm sure you're wondering if these brands the same as they are in America. In short, yes. The main purpose of a trademark is to enable the public to recognize the goods or services of a company as originating with that particular company. This applies worldwide. A trademark also represents a trademark owner's reputation for goods and services of a certain level of quality. Since consumers tend to rely on this reputation in making purchasing decisions, the marks must symbolize the same reputation in each country. Of course, there's a certain level of local variation in each country. For instance, you'll find a Shrimp Burger on the menu in the McDonald's in Hong Kong, but won't find that in the United States.

The lesson here is that if you're considering expanding your brand internationally, it must represent the same goodwill worldwide. The other lesson here is that if you're craving good coffee and see a Starbucks outside the United States, you know you won't be disappointed.

The lawyers at Trademarkology provide online trademark registration services backed by the experience and service of one of the nation's oldest law firms. Click here to begin the process of protecting your brand name with a federally registered trademark.