A trademark is a recognizable sign, design, or expression, which allows discriminating products or services of a particular source from those of others. Trademarks may be words, including personal names, letters, numbers, figurative elements, 3D images, colour combinations, sound or any combination of the above. As a trademark, a sign cannot be protected if:
- It does not possess a distinctive character;
- it only represents kind, quality, quantity, purpose, geographic source or time of production or service or any other characteristic of goods and/or services;
- it includes a geographical indication
- it includes only signs or marks that are in regular use for a specific product or service;
- it contains only a shape, which is linked to the nature of the goods and is essential for a specific technical effect of this good;
- it is contrary to morality;
- it contains any official signs or control signs
- it contains or resembles official coats of arms, flags or other state symbols, names of international organizations unless the application has been allowed by official organs.
Trademarks do not have to be registered, however, it is important to emphasize that it is not protected. In other words, sign ® must not be used for unregistered trademarks, as it is only intended for the registered trademarks. More on this topic can be found on our blog.
Protection of trademarks is not linked to the concept of novelty as for patents and designs, thus a trademark can be registered at a later point (after use). This practice is common as the applicants like to study the market and see whether the products/services and the trademark have successfully entered the market. At the same time, costs can be optimized. However, some quickly developing trademarks can be harmed by delayed protection. Therefore, it is essential to consider the following:
- Is the trademark name of the company;
- Are there any similar signs on the market;
- Is the trademark only a version of an older trademark;
- Markets where the trademark will be present;
- Possible competition;
- The financial status of the applicant.