The free trademark search A free basic trademark search is done on the official database of CIPC. This is the first step to quickly assess whether your proposed trademark might be available for registration. If your proposed trademark appears provisionally available, a comprehensive search will be done which is included in our package deals.
Our reputation We understand that in today's world of anonymous internet service providers, you may feel a bit apprehensive to spend your money "online". The good news is that we can supply you with references from some of the biggest IP firms in the country who can vouch that we are not a fly-by-night operator out to make a quick buck. We believe in transparency, no hidden costs, going the extra mile for our clients and personal service.
Affordability We are passionate about helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to protect their intellectual property without breaking the bank. Most start-up businesses cannot afford the services of IP attorneys from the outset - we are the affordable alternative.
If our package deals don't fit, we will assess your needs in full and help you to decide the best course of action for your requirements.
A Bit of Trademark Background
Why register a trademark?
- You will get the exclusive rights to use your trademark in respect of the goods or services for which it was registered. This will prevent unauthorised use of your trademark.
- Registered trademarks and pending applications are reflected in the official trademark register at CIPC and your brand now becomes visible to others. Consumers will also become familiar with your brand and start identifying your goods or services with the brand.
- When you secure rights by registering your trademark, you will reduce your chances of becoming involved in potentially costly litigation if conflicting claims arise.
- Your registered trademark can easily be commercialised through licensing agreements such as franchising. Remember, this is a valuable capital asset!
What is a trademark?
- A trademark identifies the goods and / or services of the owner of the mark. It provides protection to the owner of the mark by ensuring exclusive rights to use it to identify goods or services, or to authorize another to use it in return for payment.
- A trade mark may consist of words, numerals, drawings, signs, symbols, colours or combinations thereof.
- Your trademark can be a brand name, a slogan, a logo or a specific shape or a combination thereof, for example:
- Brand name e.g. Coca Cola or Aquafresh
- Slogan e.g. Let your fingers do the walking
- Logo (or device) e.g. the McDonald's "M"
- Specific shape e.g. the Coca Cola bottle
- Colour e.g. the Edgar's red square
Why search a trademark? Very important!
- You need to determine whether another business is already using a trademark that’s identical or similar to the one you want to use to ensure that you won’t violate someone else’s trademark rights.
- A basic trademark search only serves the purpose of checking if your proposed trademark already exists. It should never be used for trademark registration purposes.
- Beware of trademark search providers who do not send you the trademark search results - in all likelihood all they did was a basic search.
- If you are sued by a trademark owner for using its trademark, at the least you can be forced to stop using the trademark. Depending on how long and extensively you’ve used the business or product name, it could be costly — you could have to change products, brochures, letterhead, business cards, signs, advertisements, and your website.
- And, if you use a previously registered trademark improperly, a court will assume you knew it was registered, even if you did not. This means that you will be cast in the role of a “willful infringer.” Willful infringers can be held liable for large damages and payment of the registered owner’s attorney fees.
Tips for a good trademark
- Choosing a trademark that uses descriptive words of your business may not be effective enough to distinguish your brand name from another business.
- Combining a word with a graphic element is a clever way to make your trademark distinguishable and unique.
- Keep these 10 rules of thumb in mind when deciding upon your trademark:
- Do not copy! In the long run this may be expensive if you are asked to withdraw your trademark.
- Do not select a trade mark which is descriptive of the goods, its character or its function (e.g. “braai” or “mate” or “friend”, for cooking utensils).
- Do not take a geographical name (e.g. a country, a city, a river, a mountain), a laudatory term (e.g. excellent, perfect, good, super or supa), or a surname (e.g. Smith, Brown).
- Remember that a misspelling (e.g. “fyne” for “fine”) or a phonetic variation will not necessarily make a weak trademark stronger.
- Select a neutral word (i.e. neutral in respect to the goods or services). The best trademark is a coined word which has no meaning (e.g. EXXON).
- Simple and short is best.
- Your trademark should be easy to pronounce, read and remember.
- Keep in mind the pronunciation of the trade mark by other population groups (e.g. Afrikaans, or the languages of the growing black market).
- Research the translated meaning, if any, of your proposed trademark. A negative meaning may be disastrous in an advertising campaign.
- Your trademark should be easy to reproduce in printed or other forms of media.