What is a trademark?
A trade mark is a sign that you can use to distinguish your business' goods or services from those of other traders.
A trade mark can be represented graphically in the form of your company's logo or a signature.
Through a registered trade mark, you can protect your brand (or "mark") by restricting other people from using its name or logo.
Once acquired, a trade mark can last indefinitely as long as you renew it every 10 years. Because a registered trade mark is a form of IP, you canlicense or assign it to others.
THE BENEFITS OF REGISTERING A TRADE MARK
It is not compulsory to register a trade mark in Singapore.
For a mark that is not registered, you may rely on your rights under the common law action of "passing off" to protect your mark against imitation or infringement.
However, if you register a trade mark in relation to your goods and/or services, you are effectively gaining a statutory monopoly of your mark. A trade mark can add value to your business because it can be used to protect your market share, you can license it to third parties such as a franchisee, or you can sell it outright for a specified value. You can also use a trade mark to help you to raise equity for the development of your business.
TRADE MARK CLASSIFICATION
Singapore uses the International Classification of Goods and Services, under the Nice Agreement, to classify trade mark registrations. This classification sets out 34 different classes of goods and 11 classes of services that a trader can register in relation to a mark.
The full list of classes can be found here.
The following can be registered as a trade mark but a mark must be distinctive and capable of distinguishing your goods or services from similar ones of other traders:
or any combination of these elements.
The following are some common examples of marks that cannot be registered as a trade mark:
- Marks that are descriptive (e.g. super, best, cheap, one dozen)
- Marks that are common to your trade (ones that have become well accepted in relation to your trade and do not distinguish the goods or service you are offering)
- Marks that could offend or promote immoral behaviour
- Deceptive marks (ones that could misrepresent the nature, quality or geographical origin of the goods or services)
- Marks that are identical to earlier marks
- Marks that could cause confusion (similar or identical to an earlier mark and in relation to similar or identical goods or services provided by the owners of the earlier mark)
- Marks that are identical or similar to Well Known Marks
TRADE MARK SYMBOLS
If you successfully register a trade mark, you are permitted to use the ® symbol next to your mark. Another common symbol associated with trade mark is ™ - this denotes that the mark is being used by the company as their trade mark but it does not mean that the mark is registered or protected under the trade mark law. ™
There are a number of other types of marks that you might find are appropriate for your business.