A trademark registration in South Africa is filed with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) in Pretoria, together with details of the applicant, details of the trademark, classes, list of goods and services, and a signed power of attorney. Before a trademark registration is a filed, a trademark search has to be done to ensure the mark does not infringe on anyone else’s registered trademark. An informal search may take 4 to 5 business days and a formal search can take 2 to 3 weeks to complete. The usual timeframe from filing to registration is 24 to 36 months. A trademark registration in South Africa is valid for 10 years from the date of application and renewable every 10 years. 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.
Trademarks can be transferred through assignment and may be bought or sold. You may also license your trademarks to another party, who will then pay royalties for the use of your marks. A trademark, like a patent, may even be hypothecated to serve as security.
Once a logo is registered as a trademark in South Africa, it needs to be renewed every 10 years to stay in force. A registered logo can be protected forever, provided it is renewed every 10 years upon payment of the renewal fee. If your registered trademark has not been used for a continuous period of 5 years, another person may apply to have it removed from the Registrar. It is advisable to do a formal search for any similar registered logos before you apply for your logo trademark.
Madrid Trade Marks in Africa
Only nine of the thirty eight African members have enforced the Madrid Protocol through appropriate amendments to their national trade mark legislation, together with the implementation of enabling regulations, namely Botswana, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
Even in these nine countries, practical issues exist such as the recognition of the national laws of each country, the enforceability of the International registration in those countries and the effect of national common law rights. Procedural issues include adhering to the system’s strict processing timelines, irregular publication of Trade Mark Journals, late examination or non-examination and issues related to record keeping. At this stage, it is recommended that clients pursue national trade mark applications in each African country of interest. We remain at your disposal to render advice as to which countries may enjoy a successful registration using the Madrid System.