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Trademark  FAQs | Have more questions? Contact us!

When should I apply for a trademark?

  • If you are manufacturing goods or offering a service. Potential customers see or hear about a trademark and they remember the goods or services associated with it. Your trademark distinguishes you from other people in the same line of work, and gives you an identity in the market place. 

What protection does a registered trademark provide?

  • Nobody else may use your trademark, or one that is confusingly similar. If this happens, you may take legal action.

What is the lifespan of a trademark?

  • A registered trade mark can be protected forever, provided you renew it every ten (10) years upon payment of the prescribed renewal fee.

Can a company or close corporation lodge an objection to a proposed trademark if its name is identical or very similar to the trademark?

  • Yes. The trademark database is not linked to the company database. A search on the company database is included in our package deals.

How long does a search take?

  • We will do your search within 24 hours after verification of payment, unless circumstances prevent us from doing so.

Must the trademark be registered before it can be used?

  • No, you can start using your trademark after you have received the filing receipt and number from the trademark office. Use the ™ symbol until final registration.

Does a favourable search report guarantee that my trademark will proceed to registration?

  • Not necessarily. Your application will be subjected to examination at the Registrar’s office and the criteria they apply to judge the validity of your application. Please read the information we attach to your search results carefully.

How long does it take before registration takes place?

  • The registrar will examine your trademark plus minus 12 months after filing. The whole process may take up to 2 years.

Do I need to use the trademark to register it?

  • No, the Trade Marks Act requires only a bona fide intention to use the mark. If you do not use the trade mark for a period of 5 years, it may become vulnerable to expungement (removal) upon application by a third party.

Will my trademark have protection outside South Africa?

  • No, your registration will only offer protection in the territory you have registered it in.

Can I register a domain name as a trade mark?

  • Yes. Cybersquatting has become a big problem and it is a good idea to register your domain name as a trademark.

Does a South African registration give protection overseas?

  • It does not. If you want to apply for overseas protection we will approach a trade mark attorney in the relevant country to register the trade mark for you.

What is a trademark?

  • A trademark identifies the goods and / or services of the owner of the mark.
  • 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. NIKE
  • Slogan e.g. Just Do It
  • Logo (or device) e.g. the NIKE swoosh
  • Specific shape e.g. the Coca Cola bottle
  • Colour e.g. the Edgar's red square

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. 
  • Do not copy. In the long run this may be expensive if you are asked to withdraw your trademark.
  • Simple and short is best.
  • Your trademark should be easy to pronounce, read and remember.
  • 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.

What things can we trademark?

When trying to come up with your new brand name or trademark, you will probably start hitting your head against the proverbial wall.

It’s not that easy to come up with a catchy, original name and just when you think you’ve nailed it, you find out someone else is using it already.

Think about these guidelines when scratching your head!

  • An invented or coined word without any meaning (ZAPPA)
  • An ordinary word that has no specific association or reference to the product or service for which it is used (WHITE HORSE for whisky)
  • A foreign (in South Africa non-English, non-Afrikaans or non-black language) word with a meaning non-relevant to the product or services (J’TAIME)
  • The name of the proprietor or founder of a company (DE BEERS)
  • The name of a famous person (COLUMBUS)
  • A name from mythology (NEPTUNE)
  • It may include initials (PS)
  • Be an acronym (SABC)
  • Can comprise numerals, with or without letters (3G), represented in ordinary letters / numerals or in special letters / numerals
  • And finally, a logo or a pictorial mark, with or without any wording