When a new trademark is identified, the first step is to conduct a trademark availability search to ascertain if the mark is available for use and registration. The possibility exists that a third party may own a trademark which is identical or confusingly similar to your proposed mark and if the mark is used, such use could amount to infringement. 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. To this end, we can conduct searches through the records at the South African Trade marks Office. A Trademark Availability Search will provide an indication of whether there are existing trademarks which are identical or similar to yours. Foreign trade mark 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 trade mark on the register preventing the registration of your trademark. Read more about Trademarks in Africa.
Domain name search, registration and renewals
Domain names, like trade marks, are assets to any business and it is thus essential to have a domain name strategy in place. The first step in domain name protection is conducting a domain name search to establish whether the preferred domain name is available. Once it has been established that the preferred domain is available, Smit & Van Wyk can register the domain name with the appropriate registrar on your behalf. Immediately after the domain is under a company’s control, it can host a website and serve emails. For example, the “companyname.co.za” domain can be used for the website (www.companyname.co.za) and to serve emails (firstname.lastname@example.org). Importantly, if a preferred domain is established as available, it should be registered as early as possible. Domain squatters, who look to register company domains in the hope of selling them for a profit later, monitor the trade mark and company name registers to identify potential targets. Domain names must be renewed annually. A failure to renew a domain will result in expiration, preventing further use of the domain and associated websites and mailboxes. Expired domain names revert to available domains, resulting in the possibility of others acquiring the domain. Recovering a domain name after expiry is a complicated process with an un-guaranteed result. It is therefore important to renew the domain name as long as a company requires it. Read more about Domain Names.