Failure to protect one's trademark can be a big puzzle for a business. Because this unique business card is what distinguishes your products and services from those of the competition. Is your trademark really safe?
Why should you register a Trademark?
Although it is not legally required to register the trademark in Singapore and the mere use of the trademark may entitle you to acquire certain rights, registration of the trademark is very beneficial. To acquire an exclusive right to the mark to prohibit any natural or legal person from using the sign in protected sectors of activity (classes).
In case of infringement of a trademark, it is possible to bring an action for infringement before the civil or criminal courts.
- Prohibition to use the sign
- Seizure of counterfeit items
- Damages and interests vary according to the extent of the damage (prescription: 3 years).
There are additional penalties, including the publication of the judgment.
- Imprisonment up to 4 years
- And / or fine, depending on the case (doubled in case of recidivism)
- Complementary penalty: temporary or permanent closure, dissolution of the legal person, permanent or temporary prohibition to exercise one or more professional or social activities, temporary placement under judicial supervision, exclusion from public contracts, confiscation of products, etc.
What can be registered as a trademark?
Like patents or utility models, trademarks belong to the industrial property rights . What constitutes a trademark is described by the Singapore Trademark Law as follows: a trademark encompasses all signs that may be suitable for distinguishing "goods or services of a company from those of other companies.
- A verbal sign, which can be written or spoken (name, words, letters, numbers, acronym, slogan, etc.).
- A figurative sign (drawings, logos, holograms, reliefs, shapes, precise shades or combinations of colors, etc.).
- A sound sign (sounds, musical phrases that can be physically translated).
These signs must be distinctive and available in order to become registered and protected trademarks. The filing of a trademark must not infringe on prior rights. For example, a name that has already been the subject of an earlier mark or is already used by another company in the same field cannot be filed (the fields of activity are grouped into classes to which reference is made for the deposit of its mark) because there is then a risk of confusion in the mind of the public.
The case of well-known marks is different because their owners can protect them regardless of the product or service. Certain terminologies are inadmissible as trademarks if they are likely to mislead the consumer as to the nature, characteristics or provenance of the product or service they designate, or if they are contrary to public order or morality, such as racist slogan or if they correspond to an Appellation of Origin.
In addition, you must inform yourself before the trademark application if your trademark violates existing trademark rights. If this becomes known later, the trademark application was virtually pointless.
Trademark application at the Singapore Patent and Trademark Office
In Singapore, the trademark application is filed via the Singapore Patent and Trademark Office. The trademark application can be made in three ways:
- Trademark registration via an online form
- Trademark registration by post with a written form
- Online registration with signature
The important information is similar for trademark application in all three ways
- Your data: for whom is the trademark application?
- Reproduction of Trademark: You must provide the Trademark in the form you intend to use later, in the same manner as the Trademark Application. This also includes format specifications for written or electronic transmission, which must be adhered to.
- List of goods and services: there are many classes of goods and services such as dishes, personal care products, fireplaces, fabrics, footwear, etc. - from this you must select the appropriate areas for your trademark application.
Once you have provided this information, an examination will be carried out. These exist if, for example, no distinctive character of the mark is given, the information is too general or there is an apparent risk of misleading. If absolute grounds of protection are violated, no trademark application will be filed.
It is therefore not checked when registering your trademark whether existing property rights are violated. Within three months of the publication of the mark, holders of earlier marks may appeal the trade mark application. If the opposition is successful, the mark is deleted and the trademark application is invalid. The fees for the trademark application will not be returned.
The trademark protection exists after registration exactly for 10 years, but can then be extended for a further fee.
Although the registration of a trademark is not mandatory, it has several advantages. For the most part, this is an excellent return on investment in the longer term. Remember that the registration process can be tedious in some cases. Make sure you have a good trademark agent to protect you properly.