A trademark is a mark which distinguishes your goods or services from goods or services of others in South Africa, or elsewhere. Trademarks are register-able 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 trademark is registered in South Africa, it needs to be renewed every 10 years to stay in force. However, provided you continue renewing your trademark registration in South Africa, your rights to the trade mark may last indefinitely. A registered trademark 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.
Trademarks 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 trade marks to another manufacturer, who will then pay royalties for the use of your trade marks. A trade mark, like a patent, may even be hypothecated to serve as security.
International Trademark Protection
There is no such thing as an International Trademark. You should file a trademark in each of 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.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)