TT134: Trade Marks

March 22, 2009

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by another other name would smell as sweet. Romeo and Juliet (II,ii,1-2)

Or Would It?

To take this famous quote rather literally, while it may be true that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, it would be deeply upsetting if you were a rose breeder and a competitor was selling roses under your brand name. And of course this applies to most products and services. It’s certainly no joke to lose your name to a competitor.

You Could Lose Your Asset:

Brand names – known legally as trade marks – are among companies’ most valuable assets, and are a vital commercial tool. Trade marks and trade names are used by every business to distinguish their goods and services from the goods and services of competitors in the market place. Consumers recognise trade marks and trade names as showing such things as a common source, a certain standard or a mark of quality.

But many brand owners find out too late that their trade marks are vulnerable to misuse by their competitors. Poorly protected marks are at risk of being lost by their legitimate owners, just for the sake of taking a few legal precautions.

What Is Classified As a Trade Mark?

A trademark as defined by the Trade Mark Act 1994 is:

Any sign capable of being represented graphically, which is capable of distinguishing goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings.

The mark may consist of words (including personal names), designs, letters, numerals or the shape of goods or their packaging.

What Are Trade Marks Used For?

They are designed for various purposes including:

  • To distinguish the goods and services of one trader from those of another;
  • To indicate the origin of goods and services;
  • An indication of quality;
  • As a means of advertising goods and services; and
  • As a vehicle for investment (e.g. valuable brands such as Coca Cola).

Protect Your Asset

To protect your trademark, your must register it. Registering your trademark gives you the exclusive right to use your mark for the goods and/or services that it covers.

Barnes Roffe Topical Tips:

Remember, a registered trademark:

  • Deters competitors from using your trade mark without your permission;
  • Allows you to take legal action against anyone who uses your trade mark without your permission;
  • Is a property right, which means you can sell or license it to others.

Please contact us to be put in touch with legal experts who will help you register your brand to ensure your competitors do not abuse or misuse it.

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