Trademark protection is a crucial aspect of business strategy that safeguards your brand’s identity and reputation. It’s a legal shield that prevents others from using a similar mark that could cause confusion among your customers, such as a logo, phrase, colour, sound etc. Marketing is a crucial tool in today’s society, and registering a trademark allows you to protect any goodwill, value or credibility you have built based on your brands identity, which is what makes it recognisable in the marketplace. But what exactly is trademark protection, and how does it work, and what should you consider when trademarking something.
What is Trademark Protection?
A trademark is a unique symbol, logo, word, or phrase that identifies and distinguishes a company’s goods or services from those of others. It’s a brand identifier that speaks volumes about the quality and reputation of your products or services.
Trademark protection is the legal process of registering and protecting your trademark from unauthorised use. It’s a legal right granted to the trademark owner to exclusively use, license, or sell the mark within a specified geographic area.
The registration of a trademark is effective for ten years and can be renewed for a further ten years.
Why is Trademark Protection Important?
Trademark protection is vital for several reasons. It prevents others from capitalizing on your brand’s reputation by using a similar mark. This can lead to customer confusion and potentially damage your brand’s reputation.
It also gives you the exclusive right to use your trademark in connection with the goods or services for which it’s registered. This means you can take legal action against anyone who uses your trademark without your permission.
How to Obtain Trademark Protection
- Choosing a Trademark
Before you can register a trademark, you need to choose one that is unique and distinctive. It should be easily recognisable and should not be descriptive of the goods or services it represents.
Keep in mind that not all trademarks are eligible for registration. For instance, generic terms, geographical names, common surnames (even if they are your own), prohibited signs, restricted financial terms, misleading marks, and those that are offensive or against public policy are not registrable.
- Trademark Search
Once you’ve chosen a potential trademark, the next step is to conduct a trademark search. This is to ensure that your chosen mark is not already in use or registered by another company.
A comprehensive trademark search involves checking trademark databases, business directories, domain name registries, and social media platforms. It’s advisable to hire a trademark attorney or a trademark search company to conduct a thorough search.
- Trademark Application
After confirming that your chosen trademark is unique, the next step is to file a trademark application with the relevant trademark office. The application process involves filling out a form, providing a clear representation of your mark, and paying the required fees. When applying for a trademark, you’ll need to select the classes of goods and services that you’ll use your trademark for. There are 45 categories, and so it is imperative that you pick the correct class as you will only have exclusive rights to the trademark for the goods and services selected. You will not be able to add new classes once your application is submitted and will have to file a new application for the additional goods and services.
The fee for the application is dependent on how many classes of goods and services you select in your application.
Once your application is submitted, it will be examined by a trademark examiner. If your application meets all the requirements, your trademark will be published in a trademark journal for opposition. If no opposition is filed within a specified period, your trademark will be registered.
- Maintaining Your Trademark Protection
Obtaining trademark protection is just the first step. To maintain your trademark rights, you need to actively use your trademark in commerce and monitor the market for potential infringements.
If you discover that someone is using your trademark without your permission, you can take legal action to stop the infringement and claim damages.
Trademark protection is an essential tool for safeguarding your brand’s identity and reputation. It’s a legal right that gives you exclusive use of your trademark and the power to prevent others from using a similar mark. By understanding the importance of trademark protection and the process of obtaining it, you can ensure that your brand remains unique and distinctive in the marketplace. Even if you are starting up a business, this is something you should consider carefully at the initial stages of growing your business, to safeguard you from any competitors.