Trade mark protection is focused on protecting a sign or logo (mark) that a business wants to use or does use as a ‘badge of origin’. A trade mark indicates where the goods or services have originated from. It protects your brand.
To obtain trade mark registration and protection, the applicant must show that the mark distinguishes ‘the products or services dealt with or provided by the owner’ from that of another person or business that offers the same products or services.
If you find there is a similar or same sign as yours already registered, it still may be possible to register the sign if you can demonstrate that you or your company has a reputation for the products or services provided under the mark.
Unlike patents, a trade mark application can be made after the trade mark is already in use and rights exist for those that first use the mark rather than first apply for registration.
What can you protect with a Trade Mark?
All of the above can all be trade marked. However, the last 3 are a little more difficult to trade mark than the first 3! A combination of a word, logo, colour and shape may also be protected as a single mark.
Interesting examples of Trade Marks:
Facebook has been granted approval to trade mark the word ‘Face’ but it only applies in the area of telecommunication services, online chat rooms and electronic bulletin boards for message transmission among computer users. What does this mean to you? Well, if you are a blog site and you wanted to use the name face in your blog name, Facebook can take court action against you for infringing their name. If you started a magazine using the word face then Facebook could not claim infringement on their trade mark.
Apple has a trade mark over the design of its retail stores, including the glass-panel fronts and recessed lighting. Inside their stores the trade mark covers the rectangular tables arranged in a line in the middle of the store, the shelving and display spaces on side walls.
In addition to their trade mark of the store look, Apple also have been granted a design patent for another retail store in Shanghai.
So as you can see, protecting your brand – your uniqueness, is a high priority for large corporations.
If you would like to know about intellectual property, you can read about what intellectual property is here!