1What is a trademark?
What is a trademark - A trademark is anything that a company uses to distinguish itself from competitors in a marketplace. This can include a brand name, a slogan or a logo and may even include the shape of packaging. As such, it identifies the goods or services of a person or company, and distinguishes it from the goods and services of another. A brand name is a word or combination of words, such as "Kentucky Fried Chicken"; a slogan is a short phrase or a sentence; and a logo is a distinctive picture or symbol. They provide a unique identity in the marketplace and can apply to both products and services.
2What protection does a registered trademark provide?
A trademark can only be protected as such and defended or enforced in terms of the Trade Marks Act, 1993 (Act 194 of 1993) if it is registered. Unregistered trademarks may be defended or enforced in terms of the common law. The registration of the trademark provides the owner with a registration certificate and serves as evidence that the owner has the exclusive use of that mark from the date of the certificate. In addition, there are other benefits which accrue to registration, most notably being that an owner can obtain a reasonable royalty as compensation when enforcing ownership rights of the mark, which is not available in terms of unregistered marks which are only entitled to claim damages that are often difficult to quantify.
3When would I apply for registration of a trademark?
If you are manufacturing goods or offering a service, a trademark can protect your name, logo and slogan from use by competitors and businesses in similar industries. When consumers see or hear about your trademark, they remember the goods or services associated with it. As such, your trademark distinguishes you from other companies in the same line of work, and gives you an identity in the market place. By registering a trademark, you gain the protection and remedies provided for in terms of the Trade Marks Act 194 of 1993.
4Who may register a trademark?
Any person or business that has a name, logo and/or slogan that is distinctive. You do not need to be a South African citizen to register a trademark, but you must be using or intend to use the trademark in South Africa. To register a trademark in South Africa you must have an address for service in this country. If you are represented by an agent, this person must be an admitted attorney in South Africa or registered to act as an agent in terms of prior legislation. Trademark applicants MAY NOT be represented by auditors or accountants.
5What is the lifespan of a trademark?
A registered trademark can be protected forever, provided it is renewed every 10 years upon payment of the prescribed renewal fee.
6Is there a difference between a virtual trademark and an ordinary trademark?
Virtual Trademark is simply the name of this company, so a virtual trademark and ordinary trademark are the same.
7How do I create a trademark?
Create a brand name, slogan or logo for your company, goods or service. Make the trademark distinctive so that consumers will remember your brand, and will put your brand at the forefront of their minds when they make a purchase or business decision. Do not simply describe your goods or service, since this will not serve to distinguish your business from other businesses, and may be rejected by the Registrar.
8Are there any hidden costs?
No, your initial R550 fee (excl. VAT) includes a name search conducted by your attorney and, based on this, a basic feasibility and registrability assessment of your trademark application. The purchase price for lodgement of R1590 (excl. VAT) in the first class and R1500 (excl. VAT) in all subsequent classes, covers initial lodgement to completion, unless an objection is raised. Should this occur, you will be contacted by your assigned attorney and advised on the best strategy to overcome the objection. Because an objection may lead to any number of possible outcomes, a new fee agreement is required, and will be negotiated at this point.