chapter 2

Trademark Registration

Trademark

Definition

A sign that you can use to distinguish your goods or services from those of other traders. A trade–mark can be represented graphically in the form of your company's logo or a signature.

—Intellectual Property Office

In the competitive and constantly changing digital marketplace, a trademark is a very valuable asset. It differentiates your business and the quality of your products from those of your competitors. Your trademark carries your reputation with it, and reinforces long-term relationships with your buyers. It’s important to be aware of trademarks not only to protect your rights but also to ensure that you’re not infringing on the rights of others when creating one.

The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) is responsible for registering and enforcing your rights as a mark holder. They’re a resource you can access to gather information, ask questions, check the registry of current marks and begin the registration process.

As long as your mark is distinctive, it can be:

letters, words, names, signatures, labels, devices, tickets, shapes & colours—IPO

Guidelines

You cannot register:

(i) Descriptive marks (with words such as "best" or "cheap").
(ii) Marks that are confusing with existing marks.
(iii) Immoral or offensive marks.
(iv) Marks that are common to your trade and don’t distinguish your goods or services.

IPOS allows for the entire registration process to be completed online through its e–Trademark service, which makes it even easier to get the protection your brand needs.

Before registering your mark formally with IPOS, there are some factors to consider. First, check the IPOS registry to make sure your mark is unique. This increases your chances of being approved. No mark is all encompassing, so the next step is to characterize the wares and services the mark will be attached to.

NICE

Explained

(i) International classification system used to classify goods and services for the purposes of mark registration.
(ii) Creates a uniform list of classification across countries.

In Singapore, the IPOS uses the NICE classification of goods and services, providing 45 classes you must choose from. This step is important because it controls the scope of your rights and the likelihood of others opposing your mark. If the list you provide is too narrow, your scope of rights will be limited. If the list is too broad, however, it increases the chance that your mark will be opposed

There’s no legal requirement for you to register your trademark, but there are benefits for your brand if you do. Registering your mark gives you the exclusive right to use it in Singapore. In the event that someone does use your mark, it’s easier for you to take legal action because the registration is enough proof that you own the mark. An unregistered mark holder can only enforce their rights on the basis of “passing off,” which is difficult and expensive to prove. A trademark is an asset to your business that is worth protecting, and registering your mark is the best way to do that.

Registered Marks

(i) Can bring action for infringement.

(ii) Becomes property that can be sold or licensed.

(iii) Statutory monopoly of the mark.

(iv) Deters others from using it.

 

Unregistered Marks

(i) Can bring action for "passing off".

(ii) More difficult to
bring legal action.

(iii) Must prove the good
faith of the mark.

Always remember that the law is fluid and subject to change. Although trademarks are an established area of the law, be sure to stay informed about the changes relevant to you and your business. IPOS is a good resource for keeping up to date and ensuring that your rights are maintained. Trademarks are valuable assets, and it’s up to you to capitalize on and protect this aspect of your brand.

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