Articles > Intellectual Property

How do I search international trademarks?

August 23, 2023   Brigid NelmesPhilip Evangelou

Need help with International Trademark?

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    Being a sole trader does not necessarily mean you have to operate your business alone. In short, yes – as a sole trader you are permitted to hire employees. As an employer you must comply with the legal obligations that any other employer has.

    Being an employer in Australia consists of various responsibilities and there are certain minimum standards that must be met if you hire employees to work for your business. Some of these working standards include providing employees with work entitlements such as annual leave, superannuation and minimum wage. 

    More specifically, as an employer your sole trader company must meet the following requirements. 

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    If you are looking to expand your business internationally or you are planning for that in the future, it is a good idea to trademark your business name at an international level.

    Before doing so, it is necessary to complete a trademark search to assess the likelihood that your application will succeed. It is also important to make sure you are not infringing on another company’s intellectual property rights. Determining whether you can trademark internationally may impact your decision to stick with your name or logo even on a national level.

    Here is how to conduct an international trademark search.

    WIPO Global Brand Database

    The best place to start an international trademark search is the Global Brand Database found on the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s (WIPO) website. 

    The Global Brand Database is a free service and provides access to registered trademarks across 40 databases, including those registered through the WIPO’s Madrid System.

    Country/Regional Search

    If there is a particular region or country you are interested in which is not covered in the Global Brand Database, you will need to search the trademark register of that country/region. It may also be worth double checking the country/regional databases of particular areas you are interested in as the Global Brand Database does not include trademarks filed directly with particular countries (as opposed to through the Madrid System). 

    The WIPO maintains a database of information on parties of the Madrid System called the Madrid Member Profiles which can be a helpful resource to access their databases and their practices/procedures.

    What if I find a similar or identical trademark?

    The first thing to work out when you come across a similar or identical trademark is whether it is for the same or related goods/services and whether it is a live or expired application or registration. The answers to these questions will affect whether you proceed with the original application or whether you consider making changes to your trademark. 


    Performing an international trademark search is a crucial part of the trademark application process. If you are looking to trademark internationally, whether through the Madrid System or directly with particular countries/regions, it is important to search international databases to assess the likely success of your application.

    If you need any assistance, our trademark lawyers are here to help. You can call us on 1300 337 997 or complete the form on this page.

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    About Brigid Nelmes

    Brigid NelmesBrigid is a legal intern at OpenLegal, working with our legal content team. She is currently completing her Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts (International Studies) at the University of Technology Sydney. Her interests are in digital/privacy and startup law.

    About Philip Evangelou

    phillipPhil is a director at OpenLegal. He has over 16 years experience working in private practice and in-house counsel in Sydney and London, giving him expertise in employment law, IP, finance, leases, dispute resolution, insurance and contracts.

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