What is a trade mark?
- A trade mark is something, such as a word or sign, even a colour or smell, which enables customers to identify goods or services as coming from a source, even though they may not know the source’s identity.
- A reputable trader will want his products or services to have desirable and reliable qualities, so that the customer will come to regard the trader’s trade mark as a guarantee of quality and a tool to differentiate from competitors.
- Marks can be a very valuable commodity if properly developed by the proprietor through advertising, promotion and correct use on quality products or services.
- Thus, it is vitally important for the mark’s reputation and goodwill and the proprietor’s commercial standing to protect the mark locally and overseas.
- The most effective and strong way of protecting a mark is to register it.
The advantages of registration
- You have stronger and legally entrenched rights to use and protect a registered trade mark.
- An act for infringement of a registered trade mark is generally easier, quicker and less costly than an action for passing-off.
- Licensing of a registered trade mark is far safer.
- Having a registered trade mark in South Africa is a good platform for applications in many overseas countries.
- Having a mark on the register warns others of your claim to that mark and thereby acts as a strong deterrent.
“A problem clearly stated is a problem half solved.”
– Dorothea Brande
Trade mark registration gives the proprietor the exclusive right to use the registered trade mark on those goods or services for which it is registered. A registration also gives the owner the right to stop others from using confusingly similar marks for their goods or services. In some circumstances the owner of a registered mark can stop others from using a mark for goods or services which are not similar to those for which it is registered.
When should you register your mark?
When the cost of changing the mark is likely to exceed the cost of registration – if advertising costs are taken into consideration, this must be the case in virtually all instances of introducing a significant new mark or brand name. Whenever you believe the mark has a future beyond a few months. The sooner you register your mark, the sooner you will have the advantages of registration outlined above.
How can we help in this?
- We can advise you on marks which may be registrable.
- We can carry out searches prior to application for registration to try to establish whether the same or similar marks already exist. We can also arrange for searches to be carried out in other countries.
- We can advise on appropriate classes of goods and services, and complete and file an application with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission.
- Where there is a need to determine an appropriate strategy regarding protection in a set of countries, we can advise on the appropriate action to be taken.
- We correspond on your behalf directly with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission and respond to any official objections raised against an application.
- We can arrange to watch for marks applied for by others that may conflict with your own, and oppose their registration.
- We can advise you on possible infringements and on enforcing your mark against any infringers.
- We can advise you on the protection of your mark in assignments, appointment of agents and distributors and in licensing agreements.
real solutions for real problems
We can be contacted telephonically on (012) 941 2260 or you can visit us at our offices.
For extreme emergencies you can contact us on (071) 462 4641