The Differences Between Trademark and Registered Trademark

19 Oct

Trademark registration in Singapore is not a mandatory process for most businesses, companies and organizations, but the move comes with various benefits besides the ability to protect your brand. To understand what a trademark and a registered trademark can do for your company, let us examine what intellectual property means.

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property, as the name implies refers to creations of the mind that individuals use either for financial benefits or personal recognition. Examples of intellectual property are artworks, sound recordings, films, names, symbols, and literary works. Intellectual property rights therefore, are a set of laws that designate rights for these creations to protect the creators or inventors and to give monopoly to the designated owners.

The following are some of the forms of intellectual property:

    1. Copyright includes works such as paintings, music, books, films, sculpture, advertisements, computer programs, maps, technical drawings, and databases.

    2. Patents include rights to inventions and give the owner the choice when and how to use such invention.

    3. Industrial designs includes the ornaments or aesthetic components of an article, such as its shape, three-dimensional or two-dimensional features, lines, color, and patterns.

    4. Trademarks include signs or marks that distinguish one’s products and services from other enterprises.

Intellectual property rights also cover plant varieties or plant breeders for commercial use, geographical indications, trade dress, and trade secrets.

Trademark and Registered Trademark

Most businesses in Singapore use symbols, names, and phrases called trademarks to distinguish themselves from other companies so that they will be recognizable to the consumers. Trademarks registered with brandmark at Singapore often come with distinctive marks such as the ™ and ® next to the name, phrase or symbol. These marks let other competitors know that the company is claiming the trademark as their own. However, these symbols mean two different things.

™ This symbol is used if the trademark registration is still pending for approval or if the company has not yet decided to register trademark at the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS). It indicates that the trademark is not yet officially recognized by the law, but the company is claiming it as their own. It is not a violation of any law to continue using the symbol, although it does not include the benefits of a registered mark.

® This symbol is used only if the company’s application to register trademark has been approved. It means that the registered mark is protected by Singapore’s laws on intellectual property. The registered mark can be used by the company to claim damages if other parties violate the laws that protect the register TM.

Sometimes a company also uses words, phrases, and designs that distinguish their services called the service marks. Although both trademarks and service marks refer to trademark collectively, some companies use the symbol SM to indicate that the service mark is not yet officially registered, similar to the ™ symbol.

Trademarks that Can Be Registered

A trademark can be in the form of names, numerals, symbols, letters, shapes, colors, and any other device or a combination of these that will easily distinguish the company from the others.

Some trademarks that cannot be registered, however, include descriptive marks, deceptive marks, direct reference marks, marks identical to other trademarks, and marks that could confuse consumers.

To be able to apply for a trademark registration, the applicant must fulfill the following criteria:

1. The trademark must be represented graphically
2. The trademark must distinguish the products and/or services from other companies
3. The trademark must be distinct or unique
4. The trademark must not contain descriptions of the products and/or services
5. The trademark must be in the customary or current language
6. The trademark must not be similar to other existing trademarks in the register

Advantages of a Registered Trademark

Trademark registration in Singapore will entail a lot of benefits for the company, such as;

1. Exclusive rights to the use of a trademark. The owner of the registered mark has the exclusive use of the mark and is protected by laws if there are unauthorized uses of the mark. The company can sue the offender for infringement and may be able to obtain damages. You could also protect the company if there are any infringement claims from other companies, because your company does not need to prove its ownership.

2. Security or hypothecation. The company can use the registered mark as a security if it wishes to secure loan facilities, after all, it is considered an immovable property that can be bonded.

3. Licensing. A registered mark can be used to generate more revenues for the company through licensing or allowing other parties to use the mark through an agreement.

4. Deterrent to misuse. Deterrent to other parties that might want to use the trademark. Other companies will think twice of using a similar trademark if your company’s trademark has been registered.

5. Intangible property. Once the trademark has been made legal, it can be considered an intangible property of the company that cannot be separated from the identity of the business. The registered mark will always be tied to and will represent the company, which the owner can use if he/she wishes to transfer it to another person or company.

6. Foreign territories. It will also be easier for your company to register the trademark in other territories, so that your rights are protected while your company is expanding. In Singapore, you can apply for trademark registration outside the country or the foreign companies can designate Singapore through the Madrid Protocol.

7. Dealing with third parties. It will also be easier for the company to contact traders, vendors, and other third parties that can help you expand or improve your business.

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