What is trademark priority (convention priority)?

Trademark mark priority is an important concept when protecting your trademark abroad.

When you file the first application for your trademark, you have the right to expand the protection to other countries with the same “priority date”.

Priority period temporarily “reserves” your rights to your trademark with respect to other countries. The priority period lasts for 6 months from the date of first filing. If you file your trademark in other countries within that 6 month period, you can claim protection retroactively from the date of first filing (not from the date of subsequent expansion to other countries). Priority must be specifically claimed, simply filing within the priority period is not enough to get priority.

If a German company files a trademark in the EU on 20 February 2020, it has until 20 August 2020 to expand its trademark to other countries so that the trademark protection starts in those other countries also from 20 February 2020. So if there is a conflicting application in another country filed, for example on 16 July 2020, the German company has an earlier right to the mark even though the application was filed later than 16 July 2020, provided that if filed the application within the priority period (on or before 20 August 2020) and made a priority claim in the application.

There are two requirements to able claim priority:
​- Principle of first filing
– Triple identity

The principle of first filing means that priority can only be claimed from the first filing of a trademark. The principle of triple identity means that in order to be able to claim priority, three things must be identical in the first application and in the subsequent applications where priority is claimed:
– Applicant must be the same person or entity
– The trademark must be exactly the same (identical)
– The goods and services must be exactly the same (identical) or narrower