So, you’ve just got your business logo designed and you’re wondering whether it’s worth the effort to turn it into a registered trademark. How does a registered trademark benefit your company? What do the “TM” and “®” symbols mean? Much queries it seems. Let’s take a read to find out more!
1. What is a Trademark?
A trademark or trade mark is a recognisable sign that distinguishes your business’ products or services from others. It is a symbol that is used to represent your brand name or company. In Singapore, it is not mandatory to register your trademark. But it should be noted that you are permitted to file for lawsuit on the infringement of your trademark only if it is registered. For a trademark that is not registered, you may rely on your rights under Common Law Action For Passing Off to protect it against imitation or infringement.
2. When to Register a Trademark?
There isn’t any time constraints for registering your trademark. It could be a brand new mark or your business could have been using it for a while. Regardless of when your mark was made, it is eligible for the application process. If your application is a success, it becomes a registered trademark and lasts indefinitely given that you renew it every 10 years.
3. Why Register a Trademark?
Although it isn’t compulsory to have your trademark registered, having done so will bring you the following benefits:
- It grants you the ability to take legal action against parties that infringe your registered trademark
- It deters people from attempting to infringe your trademark
- It protects your brand and visual assets that you’ve invested much resources in
4. Criteria for Registration of Trademark
Before you apply for trademark registration in Singapore, you’ve to ensure that there are no existing marks that are similar to yours. The search for similar marks can be made on the e-Services Portal by Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS). There are certain marks that are not eligible for registration as a trade mark. They are:
- Marks that are descriptive (e.g. Cheapest, Best, Great)
- Marks that are common to your line of business
- Marks that could be offensive
- Marks that could inculcate immoral conduct and behaviour
- Marks that are similar to earlier marks
- Marks that are identical to well known marks (e.g. Coca-Cola, Google, Yahoo!)
You’ll need to determine the classification of goods and services with respect to the trademark that’ll be going through the registration process. Having done these, you may then start applying for trademark registration.
5. How to Register a Trademark?
The application process for the different types of registered trademark are not the same. Depending on your business needs, you may choose to either apply for a registered trademark in Singapore or outside Singapore. When you register your trademark in Singapore, it does not protect your rights in other countries. Consider applying for registration outside Singapore if your products or services are sold in other countries. To simplify matters, you can choose to file for the application of international registration of trademark. But this registration is only honoured by member countries that have participated in the Madrid Protocol, an international trademark system administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization.
6. What Do the Trademark Symbols TM, SM and ® Represent?
We see the symbols “TM”, “SM” and “®” used alongside logos and trademarks. What are their significance? Can we use the symbols however we like on our logos?
The “TM” and “SM” Symbols
“TM” represents trademark and “SM” represents service mark. Both symbols are interchangeable and can be used to alert the public of your claim on the unregistered trademark. The “TM” symbol is more widely used, compared to the “SM” symbol.
HOW TO INPUT THE SYMBOL “TM”
|MS Windows||[Alt] + |
|Mac||[Option] + |
|Linux||Unicode Hex Code: 2122 or Compose Key Sequence: tm|
The “®” Symbol
“®” is the Federal Registration Symbol and it can only be used when your mark is a registered trademark. Do note that the symbol cannot be used while an application is pending.
HOW TO INPUT THE SYMBOL “®”
|MS Windows||[Alt] + |
|Mac||[Option] + [R]|
|Linux||Unicode Hex Code: 00ae or Compose Key Sequence: or|