A trademark is a sign or logo used to distinguish goods and services of one company from another. It can be described as a brand identity for a specific individual or company in the market place and must be unique and distinguishable. It is vital for a company or individual to have a registered trademark so that competitors in the market are unable to exploit their brand identity, this is known as “passing off”.
Benefits of Registering a Trademark
The main advantage of registering your trademark is to obtain a set of exclusive rights that are applicable to the mark owner only. In addition, registering your mark ensures that it is protected from unauthorized use by any third party or competitor.
In the case that a third party does use your mark without your authorization, you can seek the appropriate legal action in court. Essentially, trademark registration provides the owner with unlimited protection from cases of passing off and infringement of intellectual property rights.
Furthermore, it helps companies to create enhanced brand awareness in all countries the mark is registered in. Effective marketing will enable customers to recognize and associate the mark with the company products resulting in increased customer loyalty.
Trademark registration must be sought from the relevant intellectual property registry in your selected country of registration, thus ensuring your trademark rights are protected in all jurisdictions where you use the mark commercially.
The two main IPO’s for multiple jurisdiction registration are the following;
Office for Harmonization of the Internal Market (OHIM): is the registry which monitors and issues approvals for registration across all 27 member states in Europe.
World Intellectual Property License (WIPO): is the registry that monitors the protection of trademarks and issues registration certificates for marks which meet the applicable WIPO standards.
The process to acquire a registered trademark is quite complex thus it is advised to seek the assistance of experienced consultants or attorneys who specialize in trademark registration.
How to Register a Trademark
1. Seek a professional and unique design
The process of registering a trademark is relatively easy with the guidance of a professional firm. The first step in registering is to design the mark. Your mark be unique and must not resemble any other existing trademarks, while also being capable of graphical representation.
2. Determine your jurisdictions for registration
You must then decide which jurisdictions are appropriate to register the trademark in. If the mark is to be deployed in only one jurisdiction, only the regulations and requirements of that country’s specific intellectual property office will apply. Essentially most companies wish to register their trademark in more than one jurisdiction to obtain greater intellectual property protection, it’s why many opt to go through WIPO or OHIM.
3. Perform a thorough search
The main concern and issue that most companies face is duplication of existing trademarks. In order to make sure that your company’s mark is unique and distinct, a thorough search must be conducted. This will enable the company to determine whether their mark is already in use or similar to one which already exists.
4. Publish your trademark registration
Generally, the applicable intellectual property registry will conduct their own search to validate if the trademark is available or not. Once approved, the mark is published in an official publication or ‘gazette’ for a specified period of time in order to give the trademark the chance to be opposed by third parties.
5. Make an Appeal
In some cases, even if the trademark is not granted registration, a company is able to make an appeal on the decision of rejection in a bid to seek final approval for registration.