Trade Marks – Your Complete Guide

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Trade marks explained

The purpose of a trademark is to define a service or product as being associated with a particular brand. A trademark ensures that there is no confusion to buyers over who is selling the item or service to them. A trademark provides the owner with sole rights to use it to label their items or services with it and safeguards against other entities from using it.

There are many types of trademarks, including:

  • Logo
  • Slogan
  • Typography
  • Fragrances

What security does a trademark provide?

A trademark typically protects the owner only in the geographic region in which it is registered. If a company desires to trade in more than one region, trademarks must be sought in each. Even when a company doesn’t wish to sell their products or services internationally, filing a trademark is still advised as it’s a crucial move in protecting your business against the sale of fake items.

When does a trademark expire?

Depending on your region, a trademark will typically be valid for 10 years and will remain valid, so long as the holder pays the required renewal fees every decade from then on.

How to apply for a trademark

To apply for a trademark, entities need to visit the official trademark or intellectual property website of their respective country to verify that the trademark they wish to register is available. The website offers the ability to search through existing and pending trademark applications. In addition to this, it’s often wise to seek professional advice from a patent and trade mark attorney prior to applying, as this provides businesses with an accurate assessment of whether their trademark application is likely to be successful or not.

How long do you have to wait to know if your application was successful or not?

In most cases, trademark applications are examined in around three months following the date of applying. If the application is successful, it will be published as such online. If there are objections from other entities, then opposition will be submitted. If there are no oppositions leveled against the trademark application or if the oppositions are deemed invalid, then the trademark will be officially recognised once the registration fee has been paid. Applicants are required to pay the fee within 6 months of being notified of their successful application.

What are the costs involved in applying for a trademark?

The cost depends on whether the applicant seeks to acquire a trademark in single or multiple classes. The starting price per class is just over $200 but can be double or more this number, in some circumstances. Generally, small businesses will only require one or two classes.

Are you able to register numerous trademarks simultaneously?

For businesses that intend to sell their products globally, the best way to have your trademark officially registered in multiple countries is to do so utilising the Madrid Agreement. At present, there are in excess of 100 countries currently signed on to the agreement.

What are trademark classes?

Many countries around the world have adopted what is known as the Nice (pronounced ‘Neece’) trademark classification system, which was created by the Nice Agreement in Nice, France in 1957. The system includes a total of forty-five different classes. These classes are then sometimes further separated into various subclasses.

How do you know if a trademark hasn’t already been registered?

Before an entity applies to register a trademark, it’s essential that they first verify that the trademark isn’t already held by someone else. The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) provides a free service that enables businesses to search through all existing trademarks from around the world.

Even if it’s determined that there are no pre-existing trademarks that are similar to the one you are intending to register, it’s a sensible idea to consult the advice of a certified professional such as an IP lawyer.

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