The first and most important step to protect a company’s trademark is by way of registration with the relevant government agency / authority.
Omission to secure the legal ownership of a company’s brand is commonly seen among Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs). This due to low awareness among SMEs hence protection of brand is not the top priority of the to-do list.
By failing to secure the ownership of a trademark, the owner is facing the risk of trademark hijacking, loss of ownership, loss of statutory rights to sue and other unforeseeable commercial risks. Further, registration of trademark in some jurisdictions is on “first-to-file” basis. In addition to “stealing” of brand by competitors, SMEs should prevent someone might create the same brand name by accident!
REGISTRATION OF TRADEMARK
The following is the general overview of trademark registration process. It should be pointed out that some jurisdictions may have different procedures. For example, certain country may require the trademark applicant to produce evidence of use before issuance of certificate of registrations. This is to ensure there is use of the trademark in good faith.
In addition to the right of exclusive use, the certificate of registration issued by the relevant Trademark Authority Office serves as a legally recognized proof of ownership of a trademark.
Also, registered trademark may be dealt like a real property by licensing the use of the mark to another party for royalty fee or sell the ownership of the mark (by way of assignment) and make a windfall gain!
TERRITORIAL BASED PROTECTION
Exclusive use of a trademark is on territorial basis granted by the designated jurisdiction. Currently there is no unitary system to register a trademark globally. Therefore, SMEs have to register their trademark in the designated country individually.
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