is a trademark?
trademark is a distinctive sign which identifies certain goods or
services as those produced or provided by a specific person or enterprise. Its
origin dates back to ancient times, when craftsmen reproduced their signatures,
or "marks" on their artistic or utilitarian products. Over the years these marks
evolved into today's system of trademark registration and protection. The system
helps consumers identify and purchase a product or service because its nature
and quality, indicated by its unique trademark, meets their needs.
What does a trademark
trademark provides protection to the owner of the mark by ensuring the
exclusive right to use it to identify goods or services, or to authorize
another to use it in return for payment. The period of protection varies, but a
trademark can be renewed indefinitely beyond the time limit on payment of
additional fees. Trademark protection is enforced by the courts, which in most
systems have the authority to block trademark infringement.
larger sense, trademarks promote initiative and enterprise worldwide by
rewarding the owners of trademarks with recognition and financial profit.
Trademark protection also hinders the efforts of unfair competitors, such as
counterfeiters, to use similar distinctive signs to market inferior or different
products or services. The system enables people with skill and enterprise to
produce and market goods and services in the fairest possible conditions,
thereby facilitating international trade.
of trademarks can be registered?
possibilities are almost limitless. Trademarks may be one or a combination of
words, letters, and numerals. They may consist of drawings, symbols, three-
dimensional signs such as the shape and packaging of goods, audible signs such
as music or vocal sounds, fragrances, or colors used as distinguishing features.
addition to trademarks identifying the commercial source of goods or services,
several other categories of marks exist. Collective marks are owned by an
association whose members use them to identify themselves with a level of
quality and other requirements set by the association. Examples of such
associations would be those representing accountants, engineers, or architects.
Certification marks are given for compliance with defined standards, but
are not confined to any membership. They may be granted to anyone who can
certify that the products involved meet certain established standards.
The internationally accepted "ISO 9000" quality standards are an example of such
How is a
an application for registration of a trademark must be filed with the
appropriate national or regional trademark office. The application must
contain a clear reproduction of the sign filed for registration, including any
colors, forms, or three-dimensional features. The application must also contain
a list of goods or services to which the sign would apply. The sign must fulfill
certain conditions in order to be protected as a trademark or other type of
mark. It must be distinctive, so that consumers can distinguish it as
identifying a particular product, as well as from other trademarks identifying
other products. It must neither mislead nor deceive customers or violate public
order or morality.
Finally, the rights applied for cannot be the same as, or similar to, rights
already granted to another trademark owner. This may be determined through
search and examination by the national office, or by the
opposition of third parties who claim similar or identical rights.
How extensive is trademark
all countries in the world register and protect trademarks. Each national or
regional office maintains a Register of Trademarks which contains full
application information on all registrations and renewals, facilitating
examination, search, and potential opposition by third parties. The effects of
such a registration are, however, limited to the country (or, in the case of a
regional registration, countries) concerned.
order to avoid the need to register separately with each national or regional
office, WIPO administers
a system of international registration of marks. This system is governed
by two treaties, the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International
Registration of Marks and the Madrid Protocol. A person who
has a link (through nationality, domicile or establishment) with a country party
to one or both of these treaties may, on the basis of a registration or
application with the trademark office of that country, obtain an international
registration having effect in some or all of the other countries of the
Madrid Union. At present, more than 60 countries are party to one or both of