Trademark Law

Intellectual Property
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According to the South African trademark law (South African Trademarks Act No. 194 of 1993) you can register your unique mark to protect your business interest from being exploited and potentially harmed through misuse by unauthorised entities. We recommend doing an international trademark search in each of the countries in which you wish file a trademark registration. Once you have registered your trademark, the South African trademark law requires you to renew this every ten years to stay in force. However, provided you continue renewing your trademark registration in South Africa, your rights to the trademark may last indefinitely.

Examples of Trademarks: Name, Slogan, Logo, Shapes, Three-dimensional Marks, Colors, Holograms, Motions / Multimedia, Positions, Gestures, Olfactory (smells / scents), Sounds / Tunes, Tastes, Textures.

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. It has not become customary in your field of trade.

It does not represent protected emblems, such as the national flag or a depiction of a national monument such as Table Mountain. 

It is not offensive or contrary to the law or good morals or deceptive by nature or way of use. 

There are no earlier conflicting rights.

Marks that may NOT be Registered:

Emblems fall under the protection of the Merchandise Marks Act. The following are regarded as state emblems: Seal of the Republic, Coat of Arms of the Republic, National Monuments, The representations of the present and all former State Presidents of the Republic. National Flags – use may not be made of it in a trade mark. Use can be made of these state emblems only with the permission of the Minister of Trade and Industry, together with the consent of the owner of the state emblem and that of the National Monuments Council.

Words that are NOT capable of distinguishing for purposes of the Trade Marks Act:
Example – 24 HOURS.
Example – The word CHEESE cannot serve as a trade mark for cheese.
Example – The word SERVER cannot serve as a trade mark for computer related services.

Company Registration

If you would like your business to transact in the formal sector, or wish to access government support, you are required to register a company with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) in South Africa.  There are five different types of companies that may be registered with the CIPC in South Africa and it is possible to apply four different company names during each application process.