What is a trade mark?
A trade mark is a sign, symbol or a business identity which helps businesses to distinguish/differentiate between goods or services of one business/undertaking from those of the others. A trade mark may consist of a device, label, name, signature, word, letter, numeral or any combination thereof or a container for goods. The life span of a trade mark is 10 years and renewable after every 10th year.
What do trade marks do?
Trademark protection ensures that the owners of marks have the exclusive right to use them to identify goods or services, or to authorize others to use them in return for payment. The period of protection varies, but a trademark can be renewed indefinitely upon payment of the corresponding fees. Trade mark protection is legally enforced by courts that, in most systems, have the authority to stop trade mark infringement. In a larger sense, trade marks promote initiative and enterprise worldwide by rewarding their owners with recognition and financial profit. Trade mark protection also hinders the efforts of unfair competitors, such as counterfeiters, to use similar distinctive signs to market inferior or different products or services. The system enables people with skill and enterprise to produce and market goods and services in the fairest possible conditions, thereby facilitating international trade.
What kinds of trade marks can be registered?
Trade marks may be one or a combination of words, letters and numerals. They may consist of drawings, symbols or three-dimensional signs, such as the shape and packaging of goods; provided same is used to identify the commercial source of goods or services. In addition to identifying the commercial source of goods or services, several other trade mark categories also exist: Collective marks are owned by an association whose members use them to indicate products with a certain level of quality and who agree to adhere to specific requirements set by the association. Such associations might represent, for example, accountants, engineers or architects. Certification marks are given for compliance with defined standards but are not confined to any membership.
How extensive is trade mark protection?
Our trade mark office maintains a Register of Trademarks containing full application information on all registrations and renewals, which facilitates examination, search and potential opposition by third parties Trade mark protection is territorial; therefore, one is only protected in the jurisdiction protection was applied for.
National, Regional and International Applications:
National: all national applications are administered by the Business and Intellectual Property Authority (BIPA).
Regional: ARIPO- administers a regional trade marks system under the Banjul Protocol. An applicant can thus file a single application seeking protection in a number of designated countries.
International: WIPO- administers an international registration system for trademarks called the Madrid System. The Madrid System enables an applicant to single application designating countries in which the applicant seeks protection.
For further information, contact:
Manager: Trade Marks Services
061 299 4400