Trademark Protection in South Africa
A Trademark is a mark which distinguishes your goods or services from goods or services of others in South Africa, or elsewhere. Trade marks are registerable in terms of the South African Trade Marks Act No 194 of 1993 and subject to certain requirements may be renewed indefinitely, thereby ensuring the continuity of your brand.
Examples of Trade Marks: Name, Slogan, Logo, Shapes, Three-dimensional Marks, Colors, Holograms, Motions / Multimedia, Positions, Gestures, Olfactory (smells / scents), Sounds / Tunes, Tastes, Textures.
Why should I Register a Trade Mark? You are in the process of building the reputation of your product/service. However, competitors may try to imitate your product if it is a commercial success. To ensure that the buying public does not confuse your goods or services with those of your competitors, registering a trade mark is a cost-effective way of protecting your name and reputation.
Once a Trade Mark is registered in South Africa, it needs to be renewed every 10 years to stay in force. However, provided you continue renewing your trade mark registration in South Africa, your rights to the trade mark may last indefinitely. A registered trade mark can be protected forever, provided it is renewed every 10 years upon payment of the prescribed renewal fee. If your registered trade mark has not been used in South Africa for a continuous period of 5 years, another person may apply to have it removed from the Register.
Transferring a Trademark
Trade marks can be transferred through assignment – in other words, trade marks may be bought or sold like other commodities. Alternatively, you may wish to license your trademarks to another manufacturer, who will then pay royalties for the use of your trademarks. A trademark, like a patent, may even be hypothecated to serve as security.