How to protect a Trademark

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A company name, slogan, logo, Shapes, three-dimensional marks and colours, which are used in trade to distinguish your goods or services from the goods and services of others, are eligible for trademark protection. To protect a trademark it must be distinctive and not only describe the goods or services to which it relates. The logo may not be identical or confusingly similar to a trademark which is already registered, applied for or used in South Africa in respect of the same or similar goods or services.

Why should you protect a trademark?
If you are in the process of building the reputation of your product/service. 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 to protect your trademark and reputation.

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 trade mark to. This is necessary, as one has to file a separate trade mark application in each of the international classes relating to your product(s) or service(s).

Search – please advise if a search is required
Applicant – full names and a copy of ID, passport or registration documents. Physical and postal address of the applicant.
Trade mark – what is the mark to be protected? If it is a logo, please send an electronic copy.
Class(es): please describe the relevant goods or services
VAT: Entity to be invoiced and VAT registration number (if applicable)

Trademarks are registered at the South African Trade marks Office (CIPC) and foreign trademark registrations may be obtained should you wish to market your product in foreign countries.

Trademark Search

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 – please contact us, 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 trademark on the register preventing the registration of your trademark.

Trademark Duration

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.

Trademark Exclusions

Emblems: The following are regarded as state emblems: Seal of the Republic, Coat of Arms of the Republic, National Monuments, The representations of the present and all former State Presidents of the Republic.
National Flags: use may not be made of it in a trade mark. Use can be made of these state emblems only with the permission of the Minister of Trade and Industry, together with the consent of the owner of the state emblem and that of the National Monuments Council.
Words that are NOT capable of distinguishing for purposes of the Trade Marks Act:
Example – 24 HOURS
Example – The word CHEESE cannot serve as a trade mark for cheese
Example – The word SERVER cannot serve as a trade mark for computer related services

Company Registrations vs Trademark Registrations
A Company registration is independent of a Trade Mark 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 trade mark. 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.