Entrepreneurship takes a lot of hard work. If the startups do not protect themselves, their creations could be plagiarized at any time. Worse even, bosses could be sued by the plagiarists! If you want to protect your brand, you must understand the key points of intellectual property rights, and perform trademark registration in a timely manner!
What is Intellectual Property?
Intellectual property (IP) refers to the rights that a brand enjoys in a range of aspects of its products and services. Common IP includes trade secrets, copyright, patents, trademarks, and designs. The scope of protection includes brand names, logos, product appearance, confidential information, etc.
What is a Trademark?
A trademark is a sign that identifies different goods, services and businesses. Trademarks can be composed of words, indications, letters, numbers, graphic elements, colours, sounds, smells, shapes of goods or their packaging, etc. To register a sign as a trademark, the sign must be able to be expressed in writing, or represented graphically.
Benefits of Trademark Registration
Raise market recognition
A trademark is an intangible asset of an enterprise. Registering a trademark can enhance market recognition, thus easier for consumers to distinguish the source of goods or services. As a brand builds credibility, a trademark helps strengthening the market share, gaining a head start in the market and enhancing brand value. Business expansion would also be more secure.
Provide better legal protection to brands
Exclusive trademark rights can prevent others from using the same or similar signs for any commercial purposes, and avoid the brand being misappropriated. The rights holder can legally designate the registered symbol "®" to their products, to prove the legitimacy of the products. As a result, brand image can be protected from infringement.
Enhance customer trust
In addition to better legal protection, registered trademarks are also beneficial to marketing. Since there are loads of product options in the market, many consumers do not invest much time to research and compare different shops. So, credible brands are easier to gain attention. When your brand possesses a registered trademark, it helps to win the trust and approval of consumers.
In addition, the trademark holder has the right to license others to use the trademark for profit. Trademark rights can be bought, sold or inherited, enhancing the value of brand investment. Registered trademarks are also a necessary element for companies to expand their business through franchising.
The difference between trademark registration, company registration and business registration
According to Intellectual Property Department, the three registrations are regulated by different legislation, and administered by different government departments. Company names are regulated by the Companies Registry, business names are registered with the Business Registration Office, trademarks are registered with the Intellectual Property Department. Even if you possess the Certificate of Incorporation or a Business Registration Certificate, it does not mean that you have the right to use the name as a trademark for commercial use.
Important Points of Trademark Registration
During application, the applicant must submit a list detailing the classification of all goods and services for which the trademark registration is applied. If an outdated or wrong classification is used, the application may be delayed. To correctly do so, applicants are required to refer to the newest edition of the Nice Classification. Common classifications of different industries include but are not limited to “food service: Class 29 frozen meat and dairy products, Class 30 cereal products and condiments, Class 43 catering services”, “technology R&D – Class 09 electronic programs, Class 42 scientific and technological R&D” etc. Enterprises should also consider the long-term development direction. If a technology company plans to enter the catering industry in the future, it is best for the operator to register the trademark in categories related to the catering industry, too.
A trademark needs to have distinctive features in both illustrations and words, and be different from that of other merchants. Any newly created words, or everyday vocabulary unrelated to the business can be considered to be distinctive by the Intellectual Property Department. Besides, if the trademark only shows the description of the goods and services, or the quality, quantity or value of them, or uses geographical names and jargons of the industry, the application could face an objection.
What Information is Required to Register a Trademark?
- Applicant's name and address
- ID card/passport (individual application) OR Certificate of Incorporation (Company application)
- Applicant nationality or company registration location
- The pattern of the registered trademark (which color must be specified in the trademark)
- Trademark registration classifications and product/service details
- In some countries, the Authorization Letter is a written by Notary Public Attorney (POA Letter) is required.
Why Should You Register Trademarks ASAP?
Trademarks are distinguished by the area of jurisdiction, and the scope of protection of laws only covers the area where the registration is applied for. Hong Kong trademarks are based on the principle of "used first". Even if one has not registered a trademark, though has a record of continuous usage, the actual time period of usage will be considered along with other factors during application review. Nevertheless, if the brand intends to enter other markets, it is best to complete the trademark registration beforehand. For trademarks in Mainland China, Taiwan, and Macau, they employ the “applied first” principle. Therefore, if someone registers a trademark in one of those areas, that person or company instantly gains the right to sell products and operate services under that trademark. This may hinder the original brand owner’s business plan, and stain its image. Worse even, legal dispute could also occur.
OneStart Business Centre offers trademark registration service covering Hong Kong, China, and global areas. Entrepreneurs are suggested to give precedence to trademark registration over starting the business. The rationale behind is to avoid losses caused by the violation of the right to trademarks. Since different regions have specific laws and regulations, companies need to handle trademark registrations vigilantly. For more assistance,, feel free to call 3575 6888, or Whatsapp our staff to learn more!
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