A logo may be registered as a trademark to prevent competitors from using it. A trademark is a mark which distinguishes your goods and/or services from goods and/or services of others. To indicate that a logo has formally been registered as a trademark in South Africa, the registered symbol ® should be displayed on the logo. Trademark registrations can be lodged in any of the 45 different classes of the Nice Classification, depending on the goods and/or services for which the logo will be used. Examples of Classes:
Goods: Chemical products, paints, industrial illuminants, medical apparatus, motors and engines for land vehicles, utensils and containers for household and kitchen use, clothing and footwear, gymnastic and sporting articles, etc.
Services: Services rendered by advertising establishments, services rendered by contractors or subcontractors in construction, production of objects or inorganic or organic substances, custom manufacturing services, hygienic and beauty care for human beings or animals, etc.
It is advisable that the trademark be searched before the application is made. 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, should you wish to have a search conducted through the trade mark offices of foreign countries. A search has to be conducted to make sure there is no similar or identical trade mark on the register preventing the registration of your trademark.
Once a logo is registered as a trademark in South Africa, it needs to be renewed every 10 years to stay in force. A registered logo can be protected forever, provided it is renewed every 10 years upon payment of the renewal fee. If your registered trademark has not been used for a continuous period of 5 years, another person may apply to have it removed from the Registrar. It is advisable to do a formal search for any similar registered logos before you apply for your logo trademark.
Once a trademark 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, your rights to the trademark may last indefinitely. If your registered trademark 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.
There is no such thing as an International Trademark
Various international agreements make it possible to file a single logo registration in more than one country:
BOIP (Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands)
Community Trademark (European Union)
Madrid Agreement (97 Contracting Parties)
OAPI (17 French speaking member states in Africa)
ARIPO (19 English speaking member states in Africa)
You should file a trademark in the countries in which you offer your products or services and you should also consider filing in countries where you intend to use the mark in the future, but some countries do have use requirements. It is highly recommended that you contact trade mark attorneys to assist you with filing and registering your trade mark. Trade mark attorneys will not only advise you on the best way to ensure that your trade marks are properly protected, but will also deal with all the formalities on your behalf, making the process as effective as possible.