Trademark Domain Names

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Does South Africa trademark laws extend to domain names?

The Internet has opened a whole new minefield for copyright and trademark infringements. The South Africa trademark laws can also be applied to domain names on the Internet, provided that the domain name is a registered trademark. It is not that simple to get a domain name registered as a trademark, but it is possible. You may very well find that your domain infringes on the trademark rights of another domain name owner. If a company such as a soft drink beverage maker has a specific brand associated with its drinks the company may wish to also register their domain as a trademark to prevent any possibilities of another company using a similar name to confuse users. With no regulatory body to enforce the South Africa trademark laws on domain names, many such infringements can take place.

Transferring a Trademark

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 trademarks to another manufacturer, who will then pay royalties for the use of your trademarks. A trademark, like a patent, may even be hypothecated to serve as security.

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 in South Africa, your rights to the trade mark may last indefinitely. A registered trade mark 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.