A trademark is a distinctive sign which identifies certain goods or services as those produced or provided by a specific person or enterprise. Its origin dates back to ancient times, when craftsmen reproduced their signatures, or "marks" on their artistic or utilitarian products. Over the years these marks evolved into today's system of trademark registration and protection. The system helps consumers identify and purchase a product or service because its nature and quality, indicated by its unique trademark, meets their needs. The Trademark registration system is now a globally recognised and legally enforceable.
For a Brand owner, registering a Trademark with the IPO (Intellectual Property Office) in the Jurisdictions where they intend to conduct business is very important part of protecting their investment in building designing and promoting their product or services.
A trademark gives the Brand owner legally enforceable rights to protect their brand name against counterfeit good and third parties misusing their Brand name and logo to promote their own good or services.
A registered Trademark can be used to enforce rights against counterfeit goods and services it also very important in today’s digital economy. A registered Trademark can be used to protect against domain squatters as the rights granted in a Trademark are recognised by ICANN and other internet registrars as superseding the domain registration.
A Trademark give exclusive rights to use a name for goods and services in up to 45 "classes". Trademarks last for 10 years and can be renewed and extended indefinitely. Many registered Trademarks have continuous rights going back for in excess of 50 years. Trademarks can be registered for words or sequences of words or logo design or both.
Another common misunderstanding is that registering a limited company name or buying a domain name does not give you protection to trade under that name. If you have registered a business name and another company owns the Trademark for that name then you are vulnerable to action which may force you to pay damages and change your business name. Trademarks are becoming more important than ever to protect you investment in building a business or product.
A trademark, if granted, gives you exclusive right to use to use that brand in your chosen "classes" and countries. Choosing a brand to represent your company is hence critical. You need a name which represents you but trying to find a new brand when over 31 million already exist is hard. The best names are typically gone and if you want a brand that has multilingual and multi-country appeal, this can be very difficult to obtain for a new brand.
Trademark registration can be a time consuming and complex process with an uncertain outcome. For international trademarks, that complexity and uncertainty is multiplied with "conflict" and "compliance" checks across many legal jurisdictions. The process could take several years to even find out if you can secure a the brand in all of the countries you may need it.