A trademark forms the identity of your business as it distinguishes your product or service offering from that of your competitors. Your name and logo or any other characteristics is what will speak to your intended market and it will act as a “stamp” of approval for brand loyal customers to verify the quality of your offering.
What is a trademark?
Trademark law is regulated by the Trade Marks Act 194 of 1993 and a trademark is defined as ‘any sign capable of being represented graphically, including a device, name, signature, word, letter, numeral, shape, configuration, pattern, ornamentation, colour or container for goods or any combination aforementioned’. It is important to note that a trademark must have the ability to distinguish the relevant goods or services of the same kind; this forms the requirement for the registrability of a trademark.
Why should I register a trademark?
A registered trademark is protected by the Act and forms prima facie evidence of ownership. It is important to register your trademark in order to be able to legally prevent competitors from passing off your brand as their own, thus sometimes compromising the quality and the reliability of your product/service. As the owner, you will have exclusive use of your trademark and legal proceedings may be instituted against any person who encroaches on your trademark rights.
How long is a trademark valid for?
A trademark is valid for a period of 10 years, at which point it will need to be renewed by paying the prescribed renewal fee.
It is a punishable offence to use the ® symbol in conjunction with your trademark or logo if you have not registered your trademark.
Need to register a trademark?