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The how, where and what of trade mark registration for SMMEs in South Africa (Part 2): The trade mark application process

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

In this article, we delve into the practical aspects of securing your trade mark rights. Building on the insights shared in Part 1, where we debunked common misconceptions, this article provides a step-by-step breakdown of the trade mark application process tailored for small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs).

Whether you’re a startup or an established business, understanding the nuances of the trade mark application process is crucial for safeguarding your brand identity and fostering growth.

If you haven’t already, be sure to read Part 1 for invaluable insights into dispelling misconceptions surrounding trade mark registration.

Step 1: CIPC customer registration (required to lodge applications manually in hard copy or via the relevant e-filing platform)

To engage in transactions with CIPC, individuals must undergo a one-time registration process as a customer on the CIPC e-services website. Upon successful registration, a virtual account will be established in the customer’s name. It is essential to safeguard your customer code and password, as it will be required for all your future transactions with CIPC, including depositing funds for payment of official fees.

Step 2: Deposit funds into your CIPC customer account

It’s important to note that a fee of R590 is applicable for each trade mark application that you lodge, as well as for each class in which you want to lodge an application. Ensure that your correct customer code is utilised as a reference number when making a deposit. The banking details for CIPC, along with a variety of payment options, can be located here.

Step 3: Access CIPC IP Online

CIPC IP Online stands as South Africa’s dedicated online portal for Intellectual Property (IP) services, streamlining the trade marks application process, as well as for other IP domains. This online platform plays a pivotal role in simplifying the accessibility and administration of intellectual property rights. To access the CIPC IP Online portal on the CIPC website, you can use the link here.

The portal offers a user-friendly interface. Users can log in using their existing CIPC customer account credentials and then create their own IP Online user profile, ensuring a seamless and integrated experience. This not only enhances security but also ensures a personalised and efficient interaction with the platform.

One noteworthy feature of CIPC IP Online is its capability to facilitate the entire trade mark application process. From initial searches to the submission of applications, users can navigate the process entirely through the portal. This end-to-end functionality eliminates the need for paperwork, making it a time-efficient and cost-effective solution for individuals and businesses seeking trade mark protection.

By centralising IP services, CIPC IP Online empowers users to take control of their intellectual property matters, providing a modern and responsive platform for managing trade marks in South Africa. The integration of technology in the trade mark application process through this portal underscores the commitment to fostering innovation and ease of doing business in the realm of intellectual property.

The IP Online user registration process comprises of the following steps:

Navigate to the login button from the above screenshot

Login with your existing CIPC customer account credentials

(* For “username” use your existing CIPC customer code and password).

Once your customer account credentials has been successfully authenticated, you will be required to configure your profile settings by selecting the IP services you will utilise to transact with CIPC.

After selecting* the IP services of interest to you, you will need to save the changes to your profile. (* This selection is visible to first time users only and can be updated at a later stage).

To confirm that your profile has been saved, you will see the following message:

You will be required to log out of IP Online and login again for your profile to be updated and then you will be able to start transacting on the IP Online portal.

Step 4: Free trade mark e-searching functionality

On CIPC IP Online, you can perform a quick search on the Trade Marks Register to check the availability of the mark you intend to use. This search tool offers fundamental search information and is provided free of charge.

This resource proves advantageous as it allows you to preliminarily assess the availability of your chosen trade mark, and therefore assisting you to make better informed decisions regarding the chosen trade mark before committing to the registration process.

Step 5: The trade mark application process in detail

Before initiating the trade mark application process, ensure you have all necessary information at hand.

This includes details about the trade mark, applicant information and a physical address within South Africa to be used as the “address of service”.

Visit the CIPC IP Online portal and log in using your CIPC customer account credentials. If you do not have an account, follow Step 1.

Once logged in, locate the “Trade Marks” tab on the portal. Click on it to reveal a dropdown menu. From the dropdown menu, select “Apply for Trade Mark”. This will initiate the online application process.

On the next page, carefully read the important notice on who is authorized to lodge trade mark applications. After understanding the information, click “Proceed” to move forward with the application.

Indicate the type of mark you are applying for – either a “single” mark if applying in one class only, or “series” if applying in multiple classes.

Select the trade mark nature as “ordinary”.

Insert the applicant’s details. Remember that the details of the person or entity who is intended to be the legal owner of the trade mark should be inserted here.

The address for service should be a physical address within South Africa and in the instance of an applicant applying on his/her own behalf without legal representation, these details should match those of the applicant’s details.

Select the trade mark type (“verbal” for a word mark or “figurative” for a logo).

The representation of the trade mark should then be inserted as this indicates the actual trade mark you want to protect.

Next, select a class number from one of the 45 classes of goods or services in terms of the Nice Classification. The standard class heading will automatically list the goods or services and there is no need to change this.

Detailed information on the goods and services covered in the 45 international classes applicable to trade marks are available here.

Unless you are applying for a figurative (logo) trade mark, no supporting documentation is required in the case of applicants applying for a trade mark on their own behalf.

Preview all entered details/data to ensure accuracy and correctness. If satisfied that all is in order and correct, click the “Submit” button to finalise and submit (lodge) your trade mark application.

Within 3 days, and once the application has been processed and the funds therefore successfully deducted from your CIPC customer account, you will receive an automated email with confirmation of the processing of your trade mark application, informing you of the official application number allocated to your trade mark application. This official application number must be quoted/used at all times when you direct any query on your trade mark application to CIPC.

Be sure to keep track of any additional communications or notifications issued by CIPC as your trade mark application progresses.

Remember, these steps are equally applicable for manual applications. If you prefer a manual approach, download the application for, Form TM1, and follow the same steps to ensure a successful trade mark application. A sample of a completed form TM1 is available on the CIPC website to assist you to complete the application form.

Once completed the original signed application form must be lodged with CIPC by sending it via standard postal services, or by courier, or by placing it in the drop box at the dtic Campus in Sunnyside, Pretoria.

Conclusion

As we conclude Part 2 of our series on Trade Mark Registration for SMMEs in South Africa, we trust that the outlined steps have demystified the application process, thereby empowering you to navigate the intricacies of securing your brand.

By now, you’ve gained valuable insights into where and how to initiate the trade mark application journey.

Be on the lookout for Part 3 of our series which is coming soon, where we’ll continue to unravel essential aspects of trade mark protection, providing you with advanced strategies and expert guidance.

Your commitment to understanding and leveraging the trade mark landscape is a key step toward fortifying your brand’s position in the competitive market.

Until then, may your entrepreneurial journey be marked with success and innovation!

CIPC is a proud National Partner of the NSBC

Ms Fleurette Coetzee, Senior Manager: Trade Marks Division

Mr Sher-Muhammad Khan, Trade Marks Examiner, Trade Marks Division

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