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Intellectual Property

The How, Where and What of Trade Mark registration for SMMEs in South Africa

Debunking common misconceptions – Part 1

Article written by Ms Fleurette Coetzee (Senior Manager: Trade Marks Division - CIPC ) & Mr Sher-Muhammad Khan (Trade Marks Examiner, Trade Marks Division - CIPC)

In today's competitive business landscape, protecting your brand is essential for the success and longevity of your Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMME). One of the most effective ways to safeguard your brand identity is by applying for the registration of a trade mark.

In this article, we will address common misconceptions surrounding the trade mark application and registration process in South Africa and shed light on why it is imperative for SMMEs to consider this process.

How to register a trademark in South Africa

The process for determining and protecting your brand names and marks

Article written by Nerishka Pillay (Barnard Inc.)

Names, brands and slogans have power in business. Establishing your ownership of and rights to a business name is an important first step for a business that wants to make sure that their name remains one-of-a-kind. Most entrepreneurs make the mistake of assuming that registering their company with the CIPC means that they own the rights to the name, but that’s only half of the story. You also need to take the next step by registering a trademark to help protect your name or brand from intellectual property theft or misuse as your business grows.

Flirting with brand suicide: why choosing a potentially generic trade mark could be fatal
Article by Daniëlle van Rooyen, Associate at Adams & Adams Imagine your business becoming so successful that your product becomes a worldwide household brand name. You’ve coined a new and exciting product, concocted an innovative product name and business is booming. Fast forward a couple of years and your trade mark has become ingrained in the minds of consumers as the name of your type of product or service. Your trade mark has transformed from a distinctive product or service identifier i.e. “a badge of origin” into the name of an entire product or service category. The fact that your trade mark or brand, the most valuable asset of your company, has become so popular sounds great. That is until your competitors start challenging your mark on the basis that it has become the generic name of your product or service. The realization sets in that your chosen trade mark may be vulnerable to cancellation, is no longer distinctive, and you may no longer be able to claim exclusivity to it.
Intellectual Property – a key asset for your business
Bunny Majaja from HOT 91.9 FM, an NSBC Media Partner, interviews Trademark Attorney, Shamin Raghunandan. Attracting investment and key partnerships along with developing a product, sales channels and marketing plans are typically all-consuming tasks for new businesses. Amid all this critical action, intellectual property (IP) is usually low on the list of priorities. IP is however a key…
Strike while the ideas are hot
Article provided by Absa When you hear the words ‘intellectual property’, your mind automatically fills with other words like ‘ideas’, ‘new concepts’, ‘business’, and ‘innovation’ We sat down recently with Taryn Simpson, Head: Group Intellectual Property Counsel, and unpacked a few of the complex laws and guidelines around intellectual property and everything that goes along with it. When asked to define this term in the most simplistic way, Simpson quickly explained that it comes down to any property or ideas belonging to the mind.
Are you sure you actually own your IP?
Article provided by Adams & Adams
Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind: inventions; literary and artistic works; and symbols, names and images used in commerce. Intellectual property rights are like any other property right. They allow creators, or owners, of patents, trade marks or copyrighted works to benefit from their own work or investment in a creation.
Ensure that your company is the owner of IP used by your business or that you have the necessary licence to use a third party’s IP rights. As a general rule, except where you are using another party’s intellectual property under licence or in terms of a contract, all the IP that is being used by your company should be owned by your company.
Getting ready for an exhibition? BEWARE: they have eyes on your designs
Article provided by Adams & Adams Are you protecting your designs and ideas from prying eyes when you’re at a trade show? “Wow, cool design!” said the stranger, “do you mind if I take a picture to show my friends on Twitter?” Michael* was flattered. It was his first year at a local design expo as an up-and-coming creative and the opportunity promised to open new avenues for his clothing range. The strength in his product lay mainly in the unique patterns combined with hand-drawn grunge elements. He was looking especially forward to the much-hyped “Buyers’ Day” – a chance to secure large orders from local and international retail decision makers.
Photobombed? Protecting your copyright
Article by Amina Suliman | Senior Associate – Adams & Adams It was reported some time ago that a photographer named Shaun Earl Harris is suing the South African government for an astonishing amount of R2.1 billion for copyright infringement relating to the government’s alleged unauthorised use of a photograph featuring Nelson Mandela that Mr. Harris had taken. Mr. Harris made an impactful statement that got me thinking – “Copyright is what enables a photographer to make a living from taking photographs. What is the use of taking pictures if they steal your copyright and you can’t live?” As copyright is not a registrable right (unlike a trade mark, patent or design) and can be quite difficult to understand, it is often overlooked.  However, its value should never be underestimated.
Sharing is not caring – it’s in your NDA
Article by Adams & Adams Have you been asked to present a brand concept, invention or idea to a potential investor, large retailer or big corporate? Do not disclose confidential information, new designs, ideas or inventions without appropriate protection in place – a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). You may lose the chance to obtain any protection for your intellectual property (IP) if you do not register the IP before you disclose a design or invention to another person or business.
Is your brand name protected through PTY registration?
Article by Adams & Adams The process of registering your company through CIPC would have helped in terms of business name searches, but you will need to consider registering your trading name, key brand or product names and any logos as trade marks. Consider registering your main trading name and key product and brand names or logos as trade marks in jurisdictions where you will be marketing or have the most business activities and dealings. This is to help to protect them from being misappropriated by third parties. Merely having registered a company name provides little protection for the name. There are different classes of trade marks, so you also need to decide for what goods and services to register your mark.

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