What are the benefits of registering a trademark?

The registration of a trademark confers a number of advantages over the use of an unregistered trademark.

Ownership You can 'own' a registered trademark. That is, you own the right to use the registered word, phrase or letters etc. in relation to the classes of goods and services in respect of which it is registered. Registration is proof of ownership. You cannot own an unregistered trademark.

Sale Because a registered trademark is an asset, you can sell it. You cannot sell an unregistered trademark.

Gift by will Like any other property that you own, you can make a gift of your trademark in your will.

Licensing You can license the use of a trademark. Generally, it is harder to license an unregistered trademark.

Balance sheet Because a registered trademark is an asset, a trademark that is acquired can have its value reflected in its owner's balance sheet. An unregistered trademark cannot easily be reflected on a balance sheet.

Rights across South Africa A registered trademark operates throughout South Africa. This means that when a registered trademark owner pursues an infringer, the registered trademark owner need not prove its business reputation across the whole of South Africa, since the trademark registration operates South Africa wide.

In contrast, an unregistered trademark user will have to prove its business reputation for each part or region of South Africa in which it wants an infringer stopped.

Criminal offence The improper use of a registered trademark is a criminal offence, unlike the improper use of an unregistered trademark.

Customs assistance The owner of a registered trademark can obtain the assistance of the Department of Home Affairs to seize foreign shipments of goods that bear fraudulent or deceptive trademarks.

Pursuit of infringers An owner of a registered trademark can pursue an infringer without having to prove its business reputation, or to prove there has been misrepresentation or deception. If a user of an unregistered trademark wants to pursue another user free riding on its reputation, it has to prove its business reputation, and misrepresentation or deception.

 
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