A trademark co-existence agreement is an agreement between two parties to use a similar trademark for marketing purposes without interfering with the other party`s businesses. Such agreements are often concluded because the parties require only the regional use of their trademarks and, therefore, the use of a trademark by other companies will not harm their activities. Co-existence agreements may also include designs, copyrights and even patents. [Citation required] We have gathered some information regarding the reference to applicants on several important issues related to the application of trademark co-existence agreements. A brand co-existence agreement should include the following: a simple approval agreement is generally cheaper because it requires less time and resources to design. However, you will receive what you pay and a co-existence agreement will certainly offer more protection. If some of the designated products of the later trademark are identical or very similar to those of the previous registration, but the other party is not so similar, the co-existence agreement could only be accepted for the second part. But neither company predicted that the future development of digital music technologies would bring the two areas much closer together. When Apple Computers launched the iPod and iTunes memory, Apple Corps filed a complaint claiming that Apple Computers had entered the Apple Corps-only area, in violation of the trademark co-existence agreement. The court considered the issue from the consumer`s point of view and found that there was no breach of the agreement, since the Apple Computers logo was used in conjunction with the software and not with the music provided by the service. No consumer who downloads music with iTunes software would think they are interacting with Apple Corps.

The USPTO reviews many relevant factors and evidence before reaching a conclusion regarding the approval of a trademark. In cases where the USPTO believes that the requested mark could lead to confusion between the consumer and a previously registered trademark, the USPTO will place significant weight on an agreement between the applicant and the registered trademark holder. However, the approval agreement should be sufficiently detailed, with concrete reasons and evidence indicating that the parties involved do not foresee consumer confusion and the explicit steps they will take to further minimize them. The “naked” approval agreements (which contain only permission to register the trademark and a brief statement that confusion is unlikely) are much less persuasive to the USPTO. In the end, a high probability of consumer confusion due to extremely similar brands may even null and void the most detailed consent agreement. A formal agreement on trademark coexistence recognizes the rights of both parties to use the trademarks contained in the agreement for marketing purposes. The agreement may include a breakdown of the regions in which companies using contracting parties can use the trademark, the methods in which the mark can be used or the categories of products and services for which the trademark can be used (in conjunction with the Madrid system for international trademark registration). [2] Jiayan Xie, of Deqi Intellectual Property Law Corporation, assesses the circumstances, with respect to the validity of trademark co-existence agreements in China, by examining the requirements for these agreements and various cases Although TRAB and the courts have generally recognized the validity of trademark coexistence agreements, it is also considered that co-existence agreements cannot completely replace the examination of the risk of confusion and cannot be a complete substitute for the risk of confusion and cannot be a substitute for sufficient grounds for registering a mark.

While the coexistence of two trademarks can easily create confusion in the relevant proceedings or put a risk to the public interest, even if there is an agreement to co-exist, the trademark subsequently registered cannot be admitted to registration. Sometimes co-existence agreements are concluded in the form of a proactive approval agreement.