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Trademark Domain Names

Does South African 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

Trade marks 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 Trade Mark 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.


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Buying or Starting a Franchise, Franchise Agreements

Intellectual Property in Africa

Smit & Van Wyk Intellectual Property services spans across the entire African continent. Patent, PCT National Phase applications and Trade Mark filings in most African countries, OAPI and ARIPO.

Many African countries form part of ARIPO or OAPI allowing for the filing of only one application to obtain protection in multiple territories. These regional systems reduce the administrative burden of those countries and support a better output of the relevant laws.

Popular countries to file in Africa
South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Kenya, Angola, Tanzania, Mauritius, Tunisia, Zambia, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Seychelles.

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