Trade Marks - WHAT is a Trade Mark?

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In today's international marketplace, it is vital that you carefully select and protect your business name and Trade Marks. You, otherwise, risk unknowingly infringing upon the marks of others or losing the ability to protect your valuable good will.

A Trade Mark is any sign that:

  • can distinguish the goods and services of one trader from the goods or services of another
  • can be represented graphically

A Trade Mark is used as a marketing tool so that customers can recognise the product of a particular trader and it can be a sign which includes words, devices, three-dimensional shapes, and sometimes sounds and smells or any combination of these.

To be registrable a Trade Mark must:
  • be distinctive (but not: descriptive, geographic name, common surname, word of public use; not to indicate quality, quantity, kind, purpose or value of a product)
  • not be deceptive (must not promovate a certain quality and that quality did not actually exist)
  • not conflict with other marks

If a Trade Mark does guarantee genuine qualities or characteristics for goods or services, and its function is to indicate that these features comply with certain objective standards, this is called a Certification Trade Mark.

If a Trade Mark is used in the course of trade my members of an association (but not a body corporate), this is called a Collective Trade Mark.

If a new Trade Mark application must be filed because a registered Trade Mark has became so well known in relation to some goods or services that its use by another trader in relation to other goods or services may be confusing to customers, this is called a Defensive Trade Mark.

Initially, a Trade Mark can be registered for 10 years but it may continue indefinitely as long as the Trade Mark is not abandoned, is properly used, and a renewal fee is paid for every new period of 10 years.

Please note that these terms and conditions may vary from one country to another.

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