Do not mistake the registration of a company with that of registering a trademark. It is possible to register a company in South Africa without registering the trademark. It is recommended that you also register the trademark the name of the company to build and protect the brand.

Read more: Registering a company at the CIPC

To register a trademark for a company name will provide exclusive rights to that name, and grounds for litigation should someone produce, sell or trade under your name. Registered trademarks add value to a company because the name in itself then becomes a commodity that can be transferred or licensed for usage through an agreement.

A trademark is registrable if 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 purpose, value, geographical origin or other characteristics of your goods or services, or the mode or time of their production or of rendering of the services. The mark should not be customary in your field of trade and should not represent protected emblems, such as the national flag or a depiction of a national monument such as Table Mountain. The mark should not be offensive or contrary to the law or good morals or deceptive by nature or way of use. There should be no earlier conflicting rights.

A registered trademark can be protected forever, provided it is renewed every 10 years upon payment of the prescribed renewal fee. 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.

Read more: Trademark registrations

Smit & Van Wyk, Inc. provide a range of trademark services including trademark searches to determine whether a similar trade mark has been registered, filing an application on your behalf, and ensuring that the name you want registered does indeed qualify. Contact us to help you with the application process and for any license agreements that you may need.