What is a Trade Mark?

A trade mark is a is a sign that is capable of graphically representing the goods and/or services, and may consist of words, designs, letters, numerals, the shape of the goods or the shape of their packaging.

There are a few simple points to be kept in mind when choosing the trade mark for your business.

  1. The mark should differ from those used by competitors. In particular, it should differ from a competitor’s mark for the same goods or services.
  2. The mark should not be a surname or a geographical name, since these are not easily registered. They are regarded as insufficiently “distinctive”.
  3. The mark should not be directly descriptive of your goods or services. Again, descriptive marks are not distinctive.
  4. Marks which are a combination of a descriptive word and a graphic logo may be registrable. It is best to register a word in plain type as it gives the widest protection.
  5. Marks can be registered as “trade marks” in respect of goods, and “service marks” registered in respect of services.

A mark should not be used in such a manner that it becomes descriptive by the use of it. For instance, the Thermos Company are careful not to sell thermoses, but THERMOS flasks. The point is that the mark should distinguish the goods from those of competitors, therefore do indicate that the mark is a trade or service mark and do not use it as a noun. It is prudent always to mark the company literature with a notice identifying the individual or the company as the owner of the trade or service mark.

A potential threat when considering the trade mark of a business, is the usage of said trade mark. When a trade mark is granted, it has a life of 10 years. However, during this time the mark must be used otherwise it could be subject to invalidation from a third party.