What is a trademark? 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.
Why should I register a trademark? You are in the process of building the reputation of your product. 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 trademark is a cost-effective way of protecting your name and reputation.
Trade Mark Duration
Once a trademark is registered in South Africa, it needs to be renewed every ten years to stay in force. However, provided you continue renewing your trademark registration in South Africa, your rights to the trademark may last indefinitely.
Registering a Trade Mark?
We would require you to provide us with a copy of your intended trademark - be it a simple name or slogan, or a stylised logo. We would also require details of all products or services that you intend applying the trademark to. This is necessary, as one has to file a separate trademark application in each of the international classes relating to your product(s) or service(s). Trade marks are registered at the South African Trade marks Office and foreign trademark registrations may be obtained should you wish to market your product in foreign countries.
How do I know if someone else has registered the same trademark? In order to be considered registerable, your trademark must be capable of distinguishing your goods or services from those of your competitors. To this end, we can conduct searches through the records at the South African Trade marks Office. This will provide an indication of whether there are existing trademarks which are identical or similar to yours. Foreign trademark searches may also be conducted - please contact us, should you wish to have a search conducted through the trademark offices of foreign countries.
Company names and Trade Marks
A company name registration is independent of a trademark registration. Your company may have built up a substantial reputation which may be eroded by competitors who may not even have a registered company. By registering and enforcing a registered trademark, such competitors may be prohibited from using your registered trademark. In addition, you may be marketing several product lines, each with its own name or brand which are different from your company name. Registering trademarks for each of these names or brands will allow you to protect such names or brands, independently of your company name.
Transferring a Trade Mark
Trade marks can be transferred through assignment - in other words, trademarks 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.