If you have a name, logo, slogan or design which you use in relation to the goods or services of your business, you might want to protect it from being used by others. One way to do that is to register a trademark. A trademark is a mark which is used to distinguish your goods or services from those of other traders. It can be a word, phrase, symbol, shape, colour, sound or combination of these elements.
Registering a trademark in South Africa is not very complicated, but it does require some steps and fees. Here are the main things you need to know:
- Conduct a search. Before you file a trademark application, you should check if your mark is already registered or used by someone else in South Africa. You can do this by searching the online database of the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) or hiring a trademark attorney to do it for you. This will help you avoid wasting time and money on a mark that is not available or that might infringe on someone else’s rights.
- Prepare your application. You will need to fill out a form TM1 and attach a clear representation of your mark. You will also need to specify the class or classes of goods or services that you want to register your mark for. There are 45 classes in total, based on the international classification system (the Nice Agreement). You can find the list of classes and their descriptions on the CIPC website here . You can apply for more than one class, but each class will require a separate fee.
- Submit your application and pay the fees. You can submit your application online through the CIPC e-services portal or by post or courier to the CIPC office in Pretoria. The current fee for filing a trade mark application is R590 per class. You can pay online by credit card or EFT, or offline by depositing the money into the CIPC bank account.
- Wait for examination and publication. After you submit your application, it will be examined by a CIPC examiner to see if it meets the legal requirements and does not conflict with any existing marks. This process can take several months, depending on the workload of the CIPC. If your application is accepted, it will be published in the Patent Journal for opposition purposes. This means that anyone who thinks that your mark should not be registered can file an opposition within three months from the date of publication.
- Get your registration certificate. If no opposition is filed or if you successfully overcome any opposition, your mark will be registered and you will receive a registration certificate from the CIPC. The registration will last for 10 years from the date of filing and can be renewed indefinitely for further periods of 10 years upon payment of renewal fees.
Registering a trade mark in South Africa can be a worthwhile investment for your business, as it will give you exclusive rights to use your mark and prevent others from using it without your permission. It will also enhance your brand recognition and reputation in the market. However, you should also be aware of your responsibilities as a trade mark owner, such as using your mark regularly and properly, enforcing your rights against infringers and updating your registration if there are any changes to your mark or details.
You can choose to follow this process and file the trade mark yourself, but it is always preferable to consult a trade mark specialist who can provide you with advice, and manage the complete end-to-end process on your behalf.
Taberer Attorneys are specialists in trademark law. Contact us for a complimentary consultation to discuss the filing of a trade mark for your brand or product.
Do you have any questions about the trade mark filing process? Please post them below and we will get in touch with you.