For most businesses, trademarks play a very important role, as it is the mark by which the public recognises their brand, product or service. Without trademarks, it will be virtually impossible for consumers to identify various products on sight only, as this mark can be any name, word, phrase, logo, symbol, design, image, or a combination of these elements that distinguishes the product from other similar products. As a business, the idea is to build a relationship with your consumers or customers, in order to create a sustainable market. It is thus very important to protect recognisable trademarks, as this is what notifies the public of the presence of your brand.
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.
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