European IP Helpdesk

Bulletin No. 3 Trademark

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Consumers are exposed to trademarks daily. Some brand names are so pervasive that they have become generic terms to describe all brands in a product category think Post-its, Google and Pampers, to name but a few. Trademarks do not even need to be a word, as the Nike logo proves. The “Swoosh” is recognized globally, regardless of language or cultural background. The fact that consumers so easily associate signs with brands and companies as well as the values and attributes they stand for is their biggest advantage. This association between brand and product is not a result of chance, however. The companies behind these products have created a name and design uniquely representing their product concept, which is distinguishable from others on the market. Registering their intellectual property as trademarks has protected their assets from competitors. Proper brand management through trademarks results in a loyal consumer base. Seeing a familiar trademark instantly leads to recognition, long-term consumer preference and, ultimately, boosts sales. Thus, trademarks become the face of a business and are one of the most important factors in a company’s growth.

Protect your assets

Trademarks are one of the best-known intellectual property rights (IPR). But what distinguishes them from other IPRs, like patents or copyrights? Many things can be registered as a trademark, with names and logos (or a combination thereof) being the most common forms. A trademark can be anything that allows consumers to differentiate between the goods and services of a company and others on the market. In short, a trademark typically protects brand names and logos used for products and services, while copyrights protect an original artistic or literary work and patents protect an invention. To make it easier for customers to find products or services, domain names are often carrying

the same or a very similar name to the trademark.

It is imperative for businesses of any size from small start-ups to multinational corporations to legally protect their unique products or services from competing firms. Failing to register a trademark can otherwise result in loss of revenue, minimised market share and slow growth. A registered trademark ensures that the owner has exclusive rights to use it unless the licensor sells it or decides to share the trademark with a third party. Anyone who uses the trademark without the owner’s consent may face legal proceedings. In turn, it is important to remember that it is the trademark owner’s responsibility to ensure that their intellectual property has not been infringed on.

It is easier than you think

Overall, choosing and designing an appropriate trademark, its protection and subsequent use in advertising should be done with utmost care. Even though it may initially seem taxing to apply for trademark protection, it is well worth the time and effort. Most importantly, it is not as difficult as you may think. Our new fact sheet gives you useful insights into some trademark basics, such as a more detailed definition, before also addressing the application process. Please be aware that most countries have individual trademarking systems. Our fact sheet will, therefore, give you a general overview on how to start your application process and how to perform an availability check for your trademark. It will further counsel you on the most common pitfalls to avoid during the application process and will give you information about absolute grounds of refusal. Lastly, the fact sheet will delve deeper into the actual management aspects of trademarks and how to revoke or invalidate your trademark claims.

Trademarks:

The Face of Your Business