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Trade Marks

What is a Trade Mark?

A Trade Mark is a brand name, a slogan or a logo. It identifies the services or goods of one person and distinguishes it from the goods and services of another. Examples include:

  • Brand Name:
  • A slogan:
  • A logo:
  • Specific shape:
    "Everything keeps going right Toyota"
    The Nike tick, or the McDonalds "M"
    The Coca Cola bottle

    Thus a brand name is a word or combination of words (e.g. Kentucky Fried Chicken). A slogan is a short phrase or a sentence and a logo is a distinctive picture or symbol. They provide a distinctive identity in the marketplace. They can apply to both products and services.

    When a trade mark (brand name, slogan or logo) has been registered, nobody else can use this trade mark, or one that is confusingly similar. If this happens, legal action may result. 

    Must a Trade Mark be Registered?

    A trade mark can only be protected as such and defended under the Act if it is registered. Un-registered trade marks may be defended in terms of common law. The registration procedure results in a registration certificate which has legal status, allowing the owner of the registered trade mark has the exclusive right to use that mark.

    CIPRO administers the Register of Trade Marks which is the record of all the trade marks that have been formally applied for and registered in the Republic of South Africa.

    What is the Lifespan of a Trade Mark?

    A registered trade mark can be protected forever, provided it is renewed every ten years upon payment of a renewal fee.

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