Looking after your trade mark

Congratulations – you’ve registered your trade mark!

Protect your IP when you trade overseas

Your trade mark

  • Protects your company’s name or logo
  • Gives you exclusive legal ownership of your brand name
  • Stops others using your registered trade mark
  • Gives you a valuable asset
  • Protects your domain name from those acting in bad faith
  • Ensures you are not infringing the registered rights of anyone else.
  • Allows you to protect the growing reputation and goodwill of your business
  • Stops others holding you to ransom.

Now what?

Depending on which territory you have registered your trade mark in, you will have a number of years during which your trade mark will continue to protect your brand.   Its protection should continue for as long as you continue to pay the maintenance fees.

But… you need to make sure you are using it correctly to prevent it being challenged and potentially revoked.

Use it or lose it

You can’t just register your trade mark and then do nothing with it.  It must be used within a 5 year period, and use may not stop for any continuous 5 year period, or it will be vulnerable to revocation.

For example, Lacoste have recently lost their crocodile trade mark in New Zealand after it was challenged by Crocodile International for lack of use.   http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11804566

Use your trade mark correctly

You should always use the trade mark in the form in which it is registered and for the goods or services for which it is registered.  Incorrect use can leave a trade mark vulnerable to cancellation by a third party.

Make sure it stands out

It is important that you make it clear that that it is a trade mark.  Failure to notify the public that your sign is a registered trade mark may affect your ability to claim full damages in an infringement action.

To make is stand out you can use…

  • Quotation Marks: “Sanderson & Co” trade mark attorneys.
  • Capital Letters: SANDERSON & CO trade mark attorneys.
  • Different Typeface: SANDERSON & CO trade mark attorneys.
  • Bold Print: SANDERSON & CO trade mark attorneys.
  • Colour: SANDERSON & CO trade mark attorneys.
  • Footnote: Place an asterisk next to the mark and then place at the end of the publication *trade mark.
  • Symbols: ® (if registered) or ™ (if not registered).

Generally, it is not necessary to mark every occurrence of a trademark or service mark in an article, press release, advertisement or on a website, etc;  but identification of the mark should occur at least once in each piece, either the first time the mark is used or with the most prominent use of the mark.   When in doubt it’s better to over mark it!

™ or ® – what’s the difference?

  • ™ can be used if you are claiming something is a trade mark
  • ® should only be used if you have REGISTERED it as a trade mark
  • It is an offence to use ® if it is not registered

Avoid Genericide

The term genericide refers to the way in which careless and incorrect use of a trade mark can lead to it becoming a generic term for the product that it describes.  This causes it to lose distinctiveness and therefore no longer be registerable.  eg ASPIRIN, ESCALATOR, KLEENEX, BAND-AID, YO-YO, THERMOS and WINDSURFER

To avoid genericide always use your trade mark as an adjective rather than a noun or verb.

E.g.  LEGO toy blocks or OREO cookies

Top tips for using your trade mark correctly…

Use it or lose it

Make sure the trade mark stands out in any materials

Use as an adjective NOT a noun

Use it as it is registered and for the goods or services for which it is registered

Monitor and act immediately on any misuse of the mark

Regularly review the protection you have to ensure it remains relevant for your evolving business