Hartman Global IP Law truly is global, representing multinational clients and working to protect their ideas worldwide. Doing so requires a high-level expertise, a strong network of professionals around the world, and an understanding of the nuances that make each region around the world culturally and economically unique.
For over three decades, Hartman Global has been trusted by Fortune 500 companies, universities, government agencies, and individual inventors to defend their property. Every client has specialized needs, some are local entrepreneurs looking to get their business off the ground, while others are already established and seeking to expand operations to another country. For Domenica Hartman, IP attorney and co-founder of Hartman Global, one of the first steps is often helping their client understand where they need to be protected.
“International protections are not for the weak at heart,” Hartman said. “There are so many considerations to take into account apart from cost, which is already high, like your presence in that country. For example, don’t apply for protection in Japan if you don’t have a distributor there, a factory there, someone to be your eyes and ears in that country.”
Costs scale with every country in which you seek intellectual property protection for your invention. For individuals or small businesses, those costs can be an unnecessary weight if undertaken too early.
“Only very rarely will I ever recommend an individual to file internationally,” Hartman said. “It’s so important to establish that U.S. market first, that’s where it’s wise to spend your money and time early on. You can have a great product and protect yourself all around the world, but if it’s not on the shelves anywhere you’re putting the cart before the horse.”
Once that foundation is there, the Hartman Global team can jump to work on those international protections, a process which starts with their network of certified agents around the globe. Every country writes their own IP laws and attorneys are required to pass an exam on those local laws to file for any kind of protection. With the number of countries they file for protections in, around 50, Hartman Global turns to trustworthy and certified local agents to do so on their behalf.
“I have so much gratitude that we’ve worked with most of these agents for nearly, or over thirty years,” Hartman said. “We have a very long standing, trusting relationship with them. We’ll send work to our Japanese agent, and he’ll send work for the US over to us. For example, he has a client who makes 90 percent of all steering wheel components for automotive companies. We do work for that company, but through that agent.”
One of the biggest challenges with working internationally is that every country works at their own pace, with a wide variety of fees necessary at different times. Timelines can be anywhere from months to well over a year, depending on what country you are seeking protection in.
“If you’re in the US exclusively, I can give you a definite outline of costs and an accurate timeline of when you’ll be paying fees,” she said. “Once we file internationally, especially to a region with multiple countries like Europe, you basically just need a bucket of money next to you. Each of those countries have their own little nuances, like maintenance fees to keep the application pending.”
Hartman Global has found that one of the most helpful things they can do is understand the cultural nuances that influence each region and agent. Respecting them goes a long way to promoting a speedy application process for their clients, and creating an even stronger working relationship.
“We’ve worked with our agent in Japan for thirty years, and to this day he still will not call me by my first name,” Hartman said. “To us Americans, that might seem surprising, but it’s just how they do business over there, they’re very formal. Each part of the world thinks differently and has their own nuances, and that’s probably part of why I love this work so much.”
Different types of products and ideas also tend to trend in specific regions of the world.
“Australia for example, is very very active in getting patents for inventions that are eco-friendly and environmentally savvy,” Hartman said. “I’m just amazed by some of the things I see. We have a client who has outstanding sales of a particular line of CrossFit apparel down in Australia. CrossFit stuff is just insanely popular down there and in Norway.”
Hartman Global does all of this work and more right out of their office in Valparaiso.
“I’m always amazed by people coming in and saying ‘wow, you can file everywhere right here in Valparaiso,’” she said. “We’re more than happy to help people and we enjoy doing it, it’s a lot of fun. It’s like working to put together all of these different puzzle pieces that represent the different countries.”
To learn more about Hartman Global, visit hartmanglobal-ip.com.