TRADE MARKS AND YOUR BUSINESS
WHAT IS A TRADE MARK?
A Trade Mark is any sign, be that a word or a logo, which distinguishes the goods or services of your business from those of another. If such a Mark is associated with your business, this Mark should be registered in order to secure maximum protection for your brand. Registration of a Trade Mark is designed to protect your ingenuity and inventiveness in creating your Mark. It prevents other parties from using your Mark without your consent. Trade Marks may be registered in Ireland with the Patents Office. Alternatively, for protection across all States of the EU, it can be registered with the Office of Harmonization of Internal Markets (OHIM) as a Community Trade Mark.
Trade Marks are used in everyday business to identify and market products and services. They enable companies to distinguish their products from those of their competitors. The value of a Trade Mark can be found in the link that it creates in the mind of the consumer with a product or service. The holder of a Registered Trade Mark can sue for Infringement of their Mark. Registration makes it easier to prevent others from benefiting from the reputation established by the use of a Trade Mark, by allowing the proprietor of the Registered Trade Mark to take infringement proceedings before the courts.
- Search and Examination There are a number of potential obstacles to registration, so before an application is made to register your Mark, we will assess its registrability and run a search to ensure that an identical or similar mark has not already been registered.
- Application An application is made to the Irish Patents Office in Kilkenny, or OHIM in Alicante.
- Examination of the Mark by the Patents Office or OHIM The Mark's registrability will be assessed.
- Publication If the application is accepted, the Mark will be published in the Official Journal in the case of an Irish Trade Mark, or in the CTM Bulletin in the case of a Community Trade Mark. Any person may object to the registration within 3 months of publication. If an objection is submitted, each side is given the opportunity to file evidence in support of its case.
- Duration Registration provides protection for 10 years, but this can be renewed indefinitely at the end of each 10 year period. If a Trade Mark has not been put to genuine use for 5 consecutive years, protection may lapse.
UNREGISTERED TRADE MARKS
If you have a Trade Mark which has not been registered, limited relief may still be sought under "passing off". To bring proceedings, the Trade Mark holder must prove that:
- The infringer has misrepresented that its business is that of the plaintiff, or that their businesses are connected
- This misrepresentation has caused, or is likely to cause, confusion to consumers
- The misrepresentation and confusion has caused, or is likely to cause, damage to the Trade Mark holder's business.
To find out whether your Mark is registrable, or if you think your Trade Mark rights are being infringed, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to assist you.