EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
A trademark is a symbol, phrase, design or word that helps distinguish one manufacturer of goods from another. It is a key identifier of a company used all over the world. An example of a famous trademark is Apple, which is represented by a bitten apple. This mark has no text, so the image itself is the key identifier for Apple. Similarly, a service mark follows the same features but is different because it is used to identify a service. An example of a well-known service mark is McDonald’s, whose golden ‘M’ mark has been globally recognised by people of all ages since 1955. Additionally, in certain circumstances, trade or service marks can also involve colours, music, and smell. For example, Coca-Cola is well known for its red-and-white color combination, and Nokia is known for its unique ringtone.
Property and Intellectual Property
Intellectual property, however, has no physical embodiment that one can see, touch or feel, such as literature and music. Trade names, artistic designs and digital programming are also part of the intellectual property band. Like physical property, intellectual property can be owned, purchased, sold, transferred, and/or licensed. Systems of ownership of intellectual property are relatively new historically.
Trademarks adopt rights in two ways: 1) by registration, and 2) by using the mark first. Both ways can be protected. By registering, you gain many advantages from federal laws, including the use of the ® symbol on your trademark. You also have the ability to show ownership of the brand, making it less likely for others to use. Under common law, being the first to use a specific trademark also comes with certain rights that may stop others from using your mark. However, this can be risky because it does not come with as many benefits as a registered trademark would.
The more unique a trademark is, the less chance it has for it to be duplicated, which means more protection. It is also good to know that successful marks are normally those that have no relation to the service or goods.
Before adopting a new mark, it is advisable to have a search conducted and evaluated by a qualified attorney. Someone else may already have the rights to virtually the same mark, and it is better to know about it (or, indeed, other potentially conflicting marks) before you make an investment in your own mark. Lack of knowledge is not normally a defence for trademark infringement. The extent of searching that is warranted depends on the nature of the mark, the goods or services for which it is to be used, and the countries in which the mark is intended to be used. Basic searches typically focus on trademark registration databases. Usually, an application to register a trademark is made to the national trademark office in the country or region where the applicant wishes to protect the mark. The application will usually include the name and address of the applicant, a representation of the mark, a listing of the goods or services that are desired to be covered by the registration, and the official filing fee. In some jurisdictions, it may also be necessary to file specimens showing how the mark is used. However, most countries do not require a mark to be used before it is registered.
Trademarks are often used with designations or symbols, i.e. ®, also known as Reg., TM, and SM. These symbols work as trademark identifiers classifying whether or not a trademark is registered. Unregistered trademarks use the symbols TM and SM to notify competitors and potential customers of their plan to become legal and are used to discourage others from using them. Each designation is used for a different purpose; SM is used for a service mark, whereas TM is used for a trademark. The ® symbol refers to a registered trademark. This small but powerful symbol will allow the owner to claims against infringement if an issue occurs. It is always a good idea to register your trademark to have secure benefits. The protection of your trademark will depend on your country of registration which has its pros and cons. Not all regional offices will give out the same benefits, so choose your country wisely so that you receive all the information and protection you need. Your mark should represent your business in a creative yet effective way, making sure the meaning explains your business accurately. It is only when your mark is used consistently (i.e the same font type and color) that your mark becomes respected and desired.
A trademark is the key identifier of a business so it is only normal to want to protect it from unauthorised users. Using a trademark without registration will not come with many benefits. The main concern is that there will always be a high risk of losing it at a later stage as others may see it as available and register it. By registering your trademark, you will hold all the rights, as well as the ability to take legal action against anyone who uses it unlawfully. If, however, you do not decide to register your trademark, you risk your chances of it being registered by someone else.
At Starting Business, we make sure that our customers receive the best prices possible for their trademark registration. Please keep in mind that each jurisdiction will have a trademark authority, used to protect your trademark for a small fee.
Before registering, it is recommended to check the availability of your suggested trademark. You can do this by simply conducting a search using our ‘trademark search’ section. This ensures that you eliminate any possibilities of plagiarism with existing companies.
Still not convinced that you should perform a trademark search? You may be surprised to find out that not all trademark authorities go through the process of investigating whether or not a trademark already exists. This can create confusion as authorities from different parts of the world may register the same mark at different times, creating a legal quagmire. Therefore, it should be your priority to monitor similar or identical registered trademarks. It is only by monitoring that you can identify whether or not subsequent legal action should be imposed.
Registering your trademark at Starting Business is simple, but we understand that you may want to know what the process entails. For your acknowledgement, we have created a workflow showing the whole registration process:
1. You place your order online
Verify your order and pay online through our secure payment system.
2. We contact you
Once your order has been submitted, we will send you an order confirmation email and one of our attorneys will contact you to advise further.
3. Your trademark application is submitted
We will complete your trademark application in the territory or country you wish to register your trademark in by sending it to the appropriate trademark authority.
4. The application is accepted
Once your application has been accepted by the trademark authority, we will send you a notification letter which will include the application number and submission date.
5. The trademark application is examined
Once your application has been processed by the trademark authority, examiners will begin the initial examination to ensure that all the formal requirements of the application form have been satisfied as set out in the Trademarks Act. In case your application is refused you will be informed accordingly.
6. The trademark application is published
Publication of the trademark in the Official Gazette is mandatory as third parties have the right to object to the registration within a specific time frame by filing an opposition. In case a third party opposes your registration, you will be informed accordingly.
7. Your trademark is registered
If no opposition is received, the trademark office will proceed with trademark registration and. within a specified period, you will be provided with a certificate of registration of your trademark.