March 26, 2024

Why You Need a Trade Mark

Trade marks are all around us. We identify our favourite brands by them. The Nike ‘swoosh’, their ‘Just Do It’ catchphrase, and the name ‘Nike’ are all registered trade marks. While this is a multinational company, everyone, from the sole trader, to the large corporate enterprise should protect their brand by registering trade marks.


What is a trade mark?

A trade mark is a sign that is capable of distinguishing the goods and services of one entity from another. Traditional trade marks consists of names, logos, and slogans. Modern trade mark law now allows for the protection of sounds, colours and potentially scents.


What are the benefits of a trade mark?

1. Trade marks can live forever – other areas of intellectual property are time limited. Copyright lasts for the life of the author and a set time after their death (50 years in Trinidad and Tobago, 70 years in the UK). Patents are granted for 20 years. However, where a trade mark's distinctiveness is preserved and the registration is maintained by paying the requisite fee every ten years, it can be renewed perpetuity. Even if your other IP rights expire, you can protect the value of your products or services by the association with your trade mark. The copyright in the artistic work comprising the original Mickey Mouse character enters the public domain in 2024, but the extensive trade mark network that Disney has established means they can maintain control over commercial uses of Mickey Mouse in many contexts.


2. A mark of quality – customers associate your mark with the quality of your brand. You may have certain feelings about Starbucks and KFC. They are not the only sellers of coffee and fried chicken, but you associate their name and logos with the standards of their products. Investing money into your quality, but then failing to protect it is a rookie mistake that can result in problems down the line where competitors free-ride on your investment and products, which are not inherently protected by IP rights.


3. An easy form of protection – having a registered trade mark allows you to stop competitors from using your brand in relation to similar goods and services. By contrast, if your mark is not registered, you will have to pursue the common law claim of ‘passing off’ which requires significantly more evidence. It also requires a higher standard as consumers must be ‘deceived’ into thinking there is a connection rather than being ‘confused’. A registered trade mark allows you to create a limited monopoly around your brand.


4. Adds legitimacy – having a valid trade marks makes your business appear more legitimate and professional. It signals to competitors and potential investors that you have done your due diligence and taken the necessary steps to secure the value of your business.


Clover® is adept at trade mark registration. We provide information on the viability of your potential trade marks, the categories for registration, avenues for brand growth and development, and handle all registration paper work with the Intellectual Property Office. Contact us today to discuss your trade mark needs.