Introducing Trademarks

amador-loureiro-779This project was funded by ChainReact, an EU initiative that aims to generate, map and interpret data to make supply chains more visible and understandable.


Here at OpenCorporates, our core mission has always been about making official public data about companies more widely available, more usable and more useful. Much of this comes from one of the 120+ company registers we use as a primary source, but an increasing amount comes from other public sources, which now includes US and global trademark registers.

This is useful information in its own right, but it now also allows you to search for companies by the trademarks they own – which is for some a more natural way of doing things.

It’s fairly common to think of companies as the trademarks, logos and product names we interact with daily, rather than as legal entities. For example, while lots of people will recognise the brand Nestlé, fewer will know the full company name – Société des Produits Nestlé S.A. In many cases, brand names and the name of the company that holds the trademark are not even close.

Alongside over 900,000 existing trademarks from the WIPO Madrid Register, OpenCorporates now also has 4.5 million trademarks from the U.S. Patents and Trademarks Office, and we’re pulling in new trademarks and updates every day.

What does this mean?

As a result, we are ingesting registered trademarks from multiple sources and reconciling them to companies, so that users can:

  1. Search for companies by their brands
  2. Preview registered trademarks next to the companies that own them in search results
  3. View trademarks for a given company
  4. Filter companies by whether they have trademarks

Additionally, API users can search trademark registrations directly, sorting by expiry and registration dates.

So how does it work?

If you navigate to the advanced search you can see we’ve added trademarks as a field. You can choose to include trademark results with other fields, or you can narrow your search to the trademarks alone.

In the gif below, you can see that a search for ‘Nestle’ found 1,244 legal entities. However, searching for the KitKat trademark gives us only one result – Société des Produits Nestlé S.A.

tm-sdpn

If a company has registered any trademarks in the WIPO or Madrid registers, these will now also be listed next to the company name in the search results:

If you scroll to the bottom of a company page, you can view all the trademarks we hold for that entity – in the case of Société des Produits Nestlé S.A.you can see we had 4480 marks at the time of recording…

tm-scroll.gif

…And you can filter search results by companies we hold trademark registration data for

For API documentation, check here.

Where do we get the data?

We currently gather registered trademarks from two sources:

  1. The Madrid register from the World Intellectual Property Organisation

    The Madrid system is the primary system for registering trademarks in multiple jurisdictions, covering over 116 countries.

The register is made available by WIPO as regular data dumps; we check for new records on a daily basis, and parse the source XML to extract the data and download images.

  1. The United States Patent and Trademark Office

    The United States Patent and Trademark Office also makes trademarks available as regular data dumps, which are processed in a similar way to the WIPO registry. The USPTO data covers the 50 states.

Attributes

Trademark registrations in OpenCorporates may have the following fields:

Register: The register on which the trademark is listed

Holders: Details of the holder(s) of the trademark (sometimes called the owners)

Correspondent: Details of the correspondent (i.e. contact person)

Representative: Details of the representative

Mark details: Details of the trademark itself (rather than the registration)

  • mark text
  • mark form
    • text, image, sensory mark, 3D mark
  • mark type
    • free text description of mark type (as provided by register), e.g. ‘Illustration’, ‘Typeset: Word(s)/letter(s)/number(s)’
  • mark image
  • description
  • format
  • Classifications
    • WIPO nice classifications
  • status
  • registration date
  • expiry data

Next steps

The Paradise Papers revealed that trademarks have been used as a means to move money into tax havens – for instance, the ICIJ discovered that Nike, Inc. paid royalty fees to for the ‘swoosh’ logo as a means to transfer billions of dollars offshore to Nike International Ltd and Nike Innovate CV.

We’d like to use our corporate network data to help users find other examples of the role trademarks play in corporate networks. For more developments, watch this space, and if you’d like to be involved get in touch!


Photo by  Amador Loureiro via unsplash

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