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Types of Intellectual Property: Trade Marks

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Published Date: June 21, 2022

A trade mark is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods / services of one entity from that of another.  In other words, it is allows for a product or service to be identified as belonging to an individual or business and functions to distinguish the particular goods / services from those of others in the trade.

There are different types of trade marksand, in this article, \a distinction is drawn between these different types. Additionally, the different  types of trade mark protection are briefly outlined.

Types of Trade Marks

As already alluded to above, there are different types of trade marks that can be used and registered. These types differ in character and function:

  • An ordinary trade mark consists of a brand name, slogan, and/or logo that allows the consumer to distinguish between the brand in question and other competing brands.
  • A collective trade mark refers to a trade mark that has been registered by a group of traders, allowing everyone who belongs to that group to make use of that brand name, logo, or slogan.
  • A certification trade mark is a mark that distinguishes the quality of a product, rather than indicating that a product belongs to a certain trader, individual, business, or organisation.
  • A non-traditional trade mark is typically an ordinary trade mark but refers to something unusual such as a custom colour, a sound , a certain movement, or even a smell.

Symbols Used in Relation to Trade Marks

Certainsymbols can be used in conjunction with trade marks to  indicate the type of protection enjoyed by the trade marks

The three different symbols consist of:

  • ® signifies that a trade mark has been registered and that the trade mark enjoys statutory trade mark protection. It is important to note that the ® symbol may ONLY be used in relation to registered trade marks and its use in relation to an unregistered trade mark would be misleading and will constitute a criminal offence. In the South African context, this means that a trade mark  is registered as such at the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission. . Registration of a trade mark vests the proprietor thereof with a prima facie right to the use of the trade mark.
  • ™ is used in relation to unregistered or pending trade marks and enforceable rights are available through the principles of common law rights The ™ symbol can be used in conjunction with trade mark that is not registered or pending registration.

Trade Mark Examples

Trade marks are visible almost everywhere you look if you pay attention. A great example of a brand that has had its name, slogan, and logo trademarked is Nike. These consist of:

  • Name: This refers to the name “Nike”.
  • Slogan: Their slogan consists of “just do it”.
  • Logo: This refers to the “swoosh” or checkmark symbol.

To find out more about trademarks and how to protect your intellectual property, contact Adams and Adams.

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