Every business has at least one trade mark and in many instances, a business’ trade marks are among its most valuable assets. It is therefore vitally important for every business to ensure that its trade marks are competently protected and maintained and effectively policed and enforced at all times.
One of the most important aspects of a comprehensive brand protection strategy is to ensure that registered protection is obtained for all trade marks used by a business, and there are a number of advantages to doing so. The primary advantage is that, generally speaking, a registered trade mark is far easier, less costly and less time consuming to enforce than an unregistered trade mark.
In terms of the Trade Marks Act 194 of 1993 various types of signs qualify for registration as trade marks, including words, numbers, letters, signatures, logos, patterns, ornamentation, shapes, containers for goods or any combination of these. It is important to note though that in order for any sign to qualify for registration as a trade mark, it must be distinctive in relation to the goods and / or services in relation to which it is used, or intended to be used, meaning that it cannot be generic, directly / purely descriptive or reasonably required for use by other traders in the relevant industry. It should also be noted that trade marks are territorial in nature, and should therefore be registered in all territories in which a business’ products are sold or services rendered.
The Intellectual Property (IP) department at ENSafrica is able to assist with trade mark registrations, renewals, assignments, enforcement and all other trade mark related matters, not only in South Africa but throughout the rest of the world with specialist expertise across the African continent. We also have a specialized trade mark enforcement team who are able to provide appropriate and effective trade mark enforcement strategies and solutions to our clients. Part of this service includes a gratuitous monthly trade mark watch service in terms of which we monitor newly filed and advertised trade mark applications, company names and close corporation names and domain names in South Africa (and certain other African countries) and advise our clients if third parties attempt to register any trade marks or company or domain names that conflict with their trade mark rights.