Trade Mark Registration / Register Trade Mark
What are trade marks?
Trade marks are an important business asset.
They are signs that help your customers identify your products and services, and to distinguish them from a competitor’s products and services.
The recognition of your trade mark by your customers enables:
the building of your business reputation by virtue of the distinctive identity of your products and services;
repeat business, because your customers will want to buy the identical product they have bought previously and liked
loyalty business, where your customers will try a new product or service that you launch, because of the confidence they have in your existing products.
The recognition of your trade mark by your customers therefore represents a very large part of the goodwill of your business. Trade mark, business name, company name and domain name serve different purposes.
A trade mark is used to identify a product or service in the marketplace. It is not used to identify a business.
A business name is used to identify a business that is registered with the Business Registration Office of the Inland Revenue Department of the Government of the Hong Kong SAR, and may be registered by an individual, a partnership, or company or other incorporated body, or an unincorporated association. A business name is not used to identify a product or a service.
A company name is the name of a company, which is a legal entity. A company name is not necessary if you trade as a sole proprietor, or as a partnership.
A domain name is an internet address and is used to locate a specific website.
While each serves a quite different purpose, together, they can all be part of a branding strategy. You may therefore need all of them.
Trade mark registration steps
For the benefits of a registered trade mark , an application for registration must be made to the Trade Marks Registry, Intellectual Property Department, the Government of the Hong Kong SAR.
An application to register a trade mark can be made online or it can be filed physically with the Trade Marks Registry, Intellectual Property Department, the Government of the Hong Kong SAR.
A trade mark can only be registered if it is already in use or if there is an intention to use the trade mark. If a registered trade mark is not used for a continuous period of at least 3 years in Hong Kong by the owner or with his consent, it may be revoked on the ground of non-use.
After filing, the application will be examined by the Trade Marks Registry to assess if it complies with the Trade Marks Ordinance (Cap. 559) and the Trade Marks Rules (Cap. 559A); and to ensure that the trade mark you seek to register is not identical or confusingly similar to an already registered trade mark in relation to identical or similar goods or services for which the application for registration is made.
If the Intellectual Property Department of the Government of the Hong Kong SAR objects to the registration of your trade mark (for example, due to conflict with earlier trade marks), your options are to overcome the objection, seek to register an alternative trade mark, or have the objection considered at a hearing.
Once your trade mark has been accepted for registration, it will be published in the Hong Kong Intellectual Property Journal. Third parties may oppose your trade mark being registered, for example, because they own a similar trade mark. If the registration of your trade mark is opposed, the matter will be determined by a hearing officer.
If there is no opposition, or the opposition is withdrawn or decided in favour of the trade mark applicant, the trade mark is then registered and the applicant will be issued a certificate of registration for the trade mark.
Registering a trade mark in other places
Application for registration of trade marks needs to be made to each country or jurisdiction separately.
Each place will independently decide whether it will register a trade mark in that place.
So, protection for a trade mark registered in Hong Kong does not extend to the Mainland China, nor elsewhere in the world. Similarly, a trade mark registered in the Mainland China, or elsewhere in the world does not cover Hong Kong.
You can apply for the registration of a trade mark in each separate country or jurisdiction where you want to seek protection.
Duration of trade marks
In Hong Kong, a registered trade mark is initially registered for 10 years.
The registration of the trade mark can be renewed for further periods of 10 years each, with the payment of renewal fees.
The registration of a trade mark can therefore last indefinitely if it continues to be renewed.
However, a registered trade mark may be challenged in revocation proceedings if it is not used in Hong Kong for a continuous period of 3 years.
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