What is a Trade Mark and how will it help your business?
Your brand is your hard-earned property. If you’d like to protect your asset, registering your logo and company name as a Trade Mark, might be a good idea. Here’s exactly why and how you should register Trade Marks for your business.
If you want to understand Trade Marks, you need to understand Intellectual Property. You can’t physically touch Intellectual Property, but in eyes of the Law, it’s considered an asset like any other, for e.g. property.
However, because determining Intellectual Property is a bit trickier than determining ownership of physical assets, registering your Trade Mark might be a good idea to help stop anyone else from claiming, using or mimicking your brand.
Also, once you’re registered, you get a nifty ® symbol added to you Trade Mark which scares off potential offenders. You registered Intellectual Property also adds value to your business’s total worth – if you ever decide to sell your business.
The difference between Trade Marks, Patents and Copy Rights
In short, Trade Marks, Patents and Copy Rights are just different ways to protect different forms of Intellectual Property.
Patents are used to protect inventions. Inventions can be anything from new forms of medication to significant improvements to existing machinery – as long as the invention is non-obvious, useful (because mere ideas cannot be registered) and completely new or state-of-the-art.
Patent rights will legally deter others from making money or using your invention, without buying those rights from you, for a maximum of 20 years. After that it’s considered fair game for all.
Copy Rights are rights that are automatically given (here, there’s no need for registration) to the author or creator of original publication or production work. Works like photographs, films, literature and even computer programs all fall into this category.
The author or creator retains exclusive Copy Rights to use, distribute and sell the work or the Copy Rights, a glorious 50-years after death (straight after death these rights fall to whomever inherits the creator’s assets). That’s why historic photographs or illustrations and classical music are considered public domain.
Trade Marks are used to protect branding elements, which distinguish you from your competitor, like your logo and your slogan or even patterns (like Burberry’s definitive check pattern) or packaging (like Coca Cola’s classic glass bottle shape). Trade Marks can offer you a lifetime exclusivity provided you renew it every 10 years and you don’t sell it to someone else.
Intellectual Property Rights: Things to keep in mind
It’s limited to local trade: Intellectual Property Rights are limited to the country they are registered in; you have to register in every country you want to trade in / with. Copy Rights can often extend to some other countries.
It’s limited to your trade: Trade Marks are registered according to categories called Classes (the industry in which the business trades in). If you trade in multiple Classes, you’ll have to register your Trade Mark for all of them.
How to register your Trade Mark and protect your brand
STEP 1: Apply through professionals
Company Partners’ Legal Department specialises in Trade Mark Registrations. We will fast track your Trade Mark Phase #1 Registration to an estimated 40 days, whereas registering directly with CIPC may take up to several months. Click HERE to order your Trade Mark registration with us.
STEP 2: We do the specialized preliminary search for you
We do a preliminary search for you, to determine whether or not there’s a registered Trade Mark that’s similar to your brand.
If there is, we’ll help you make the necessary adjustments – this process might take 6 to 8 weeks.
You can do an online search yourself by clicking HERE, but our experts will do it for you, if you’re signed up with us.
STEP 3: Your application gets processed
Once that’s done, your application will be submitted to the South Africa’s Trade Mark registrar for Phase #2 Registration. If everything goes well, you’ll be a proud new owner of a Trade Mark!