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Non-conventional Trade Marks

A non-conventional or nontraditional trademark is a type of trademark which does not belong to any pre-existing or conventional trademark category. Non-conventional trademarks are often difficult to register, but does fulfill the essential trademark function of uniquely identifying the products or service.

Single colour trademarks, motion trademarks, hologram trademarks, shape trademarks (3D trademarks), and sound trademarks (Aural trademarks) have become more widely accepted in recent times as a result of legislative changes dealing with intellectual property, such as the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, which sets down a standardised inclusive legal definition.

In the United Kingdom, colours have been granted trademark protection when used in specific, limited contexts such as packaging or marketing. In the United States, it is possible, in some cases, for colour alone to function as a trademark. Originally, colour was considered not a valid feature to register a trademark.

Scent trademarks (Olfactory trademarks or Smell trademarks), which are sometimes specifically mentioned in legislative definitions of trademark, are often difficult to register because consistent, non-arbitrary and meaningful graphic representations of the marks cannot be produced. This tends to be an issue with all types of non-conventional trademarks, especially in Europe.

Motion trademarks that are also known as animated marks, moving marks, moving image marks or movement marks that are featured on web browsers in the top right hand corner of the screen which are visible when the browser is in the process of resolving a website are entirely new types of marks are also very difficult to register, often because they are not formally recognised as a trademark.

Conventional Trademarks:

Letters, numerals, words, logos, pictures, symbols, or combinations of one or more of these elements), and non-conventional trademarks includes visible signs (e.g. colours, shapes, moving images, holograms, positions), or non-visible signs (e.g. sounds, scents, tastes, textures).


Inventions, Ideas, New, Inventive and Useful, Gadgets, Biotech


Appearance, Aesthetic, Functional, Industrial Design, Design Patents

Tarde Marks

Name, Slogan, Logo, Shapes, 3D Marks, Holograms, Motions


Literary, Musical, Artistic, Sound Recordings, Broadcasts, Photography


Buying or Starting a Franchise, Franchise Agreements

Intellectual Property in Africa

Smit & Van Wyk Intellectual Property services spans across the entire African continent. Patent, PCT National Phase applications and Trade Mark filings in most African countries, OAPI and ARIPO.

Many African countries form part of ARIPO or OAPI allowing for the filing of only one application to obtain protection in multiple territories. These regional systems reduce the administrative burden of those countries and support a better output of the relevant laws.

Most applications / filings
South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Kenya, Angola, Tanzania, Mauritius, Tunisia, Zambia, Ethiopia.

More information regarding Trade Marks:

Trade Mark a color in South Africa – The South African Trade Marks Act specifically provides for the registration of non-conventional trade marks, such as colors. A mark is defined as any sign capable of being represented graphically including, shapes…

Trade Mark Search – It is always advisable that the trade mark be searched before the application is made. In order to be considered register-able, your trade mark must be capable of distinguishing your goods or services from those of your competitors…

Trade Mark Requirements – It serves the purpose of distinguishing the goods/services of one trader from those of another trader. It does not consist exclusively of a sign or an indication which may serve, in trade, to designate the kind, quality, quantity, intended…

Trade Mark Application Requirements – 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…

Trade Mark Exclusions – Marks that may NOT be Registered: Emblems fall under the protection of the Merchandise Marks Act. The following are regarded as state emblems: Seal of the Republic, Coat of Arms of the Republic…

Trade Mark Costs – Contact us to request prices for trade mark searches, applications, renewals and trade mark assignments….

International Trade Mark Protection – Your mark should be registered in the countries in which you offer your products or services under that mark. You should also consider filing in countries where you intend to use the mark in the future…

Trade Mark Protection in South Africa – A trade mark is a mark which distinguishes your goods or services from goods or services of others in South Africa, or elsewhere. Trade  Marks are register-able in terms of the South African Trade Marks…