Ireland: 5 Intellectual Property Facts You Should Know Before Exporting

Last Updated: 28 July 2015
Article by Brian O'Neill

More and more SMEs are now realising the benefits of export-selling, such as increased demand, risk mitigation, rising profitability and access to foreign resources and information. When establishing an export business, financial considerations are often top of the list of concerns, but Intellectual Property (IP) rights are also an important aspect in the success of an export venture, writes Brian O'Neill from FRKelly – European Patent and Trademark Attorneys.

In forming a cohesive export business strategy, much consideration should be given to the importance of Intellectual Property (IP) in establishing your brand in foreign markets. Here are five key issues to be borne in mind when planning to export your goods and services:

  1. IP strengthens your brand image

    To know exactly how IP can assist in your brand image, it's important to know what constitutes "Intellectual Property". IP covers a range of intangible assets arising out of the creativity of your business, which can be legally protected as IP rights. Examples of protectable IP include trade marks, patents and designs. Trade marks can protect a brand, slogan or logo, while patents and designs, respectively, protect the underlying technical innovations and the outward appearance of a product. Hence, registering your IP can protect your Trade Marks and innovations, each of which serve to promote, build and protect brand image while conveying important information about the quality, origin and reputation of your products or services. The reputation of a brand is core to both the demand for, and pricing of, your business offering. Therefore, it is critical to ensure your IP is both protectable and protected. There may be numerous forms of IP that your business can leverage to build your brand in export markets.

  2. IP rights can provide market exclusivity

    IP rights can be secured in your key target markets, providing a mechanism to prevent potential competitors from entering those same markets. This barrier to entry can result in a significant commercial advantage by reducing both the time and effort required by your business to establish a brand presence. As well as reducing the resources required, this IP barrier can also provide a commercial advantage as, by keeping the presence of competitor companies at a minimum, the opportunity to achieve marketplace supremacy arises. Establishing brand superiority in one market then provides an arena from which your company can develop into secondary, complimentary target markets.

  3. Legal feasibility

    In addition to looking inwardly at your company's own IP, it is equally important to be aware of the potential existence of competitive IP rights in your target export markets. As a well-known example, Apple's iPad® Trade Mark was already registered in China by another business, resulting in delays and financial penalties for Apple when entering the Chinese market. Various options are available to navigate existing IP rights in foreign markets, but it is invariably less difficult to deal with such issues before an export strategy has been formulated. Trade Mark or product can be redesigned or changed prior to final production and distribution, in order to avoid an expensive and potentially brand-damaging product recall. Similarly the time, money and other resources spent designing and manufacturing packaging, marketing material, and other promotional items may be irretrievably lost should problematic third-party rights become known after a market has been entered.

  4. Language and Cultural barriers and IP

    Language issues are particularly important when creating your company brand, and a Trade Mark or logo should be checked in the local language of the respective export market. It is quite common for a Trade Mark to have a very different meaning in another language. For example, when Coca Cola entered the Chinese market at first in the 1920s, they directly translated the company name into Mandarin as, "Ko-ka-ko-la." While this appeared to permit name consistency it became a branding faux-pas as the direct translation in Mandarin meant "female horse bites the wax tadpole" (Morse 2009). Obviously this is not a translation one would want associated with a consumer beverage. Language issues are thus another important consideration before committing valuable and often limited resources to final product branding, packaging and specifications. The same can be said for cultural barriers, which can be seen often in the use of colours and symbols. In China, for instance, including a black border around an image symbolises death or the coming of death. Hence, it is crucially important to conduct IP scanning for competitive, language and cultural barriers before entering an export market.

  5. Financial benefits of IP

    IP owned by your business is often a valuable asset in various business negotiations. Indeed IP is one of the first things any investor will look for before committing finances to a business venture, including financing an expansion into new markets. IP rights will also normally form the basis of a licensing agreement – another business venture that could be considered. A license agreement allows your business to grant another entity the right to commercialise your IP in exchange for a license fee. This model essentially offers an alternative form of export, allowing indirect access to the market in question, and is a business model adopted by many companies. A prime example of a successful licenser can be seen in mobile phone manufacturer Nokia®, which no longer manufactures or sells any mobile phones or other hardware, instead licensing their IP to other device manufactures such as Samsung® and Microsoft®. By adopting this model, your business can derive revenue from otherwise unfeasible or inaccessible markets through partnering with a licensee, which has an existing local business infrastructure. Furthermore, if third-party rights exist in a target market, it may be possible to negotiate favourable license terms by cross licensing your IP to the third-party in question.

The benefits of exporting for businesses are evident. However, due diligence must be followed when determining market feasibility in terms of financial, technical and legal factors. In a globalised market that is becoming increasingly saturated, the role of IP in embedding your company's brand in foreign markets is crucial to your export-selling success.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.