Understanding Trademarks

TrademarkA trademark, a type of intellectual property, is basically a unique symbol, design, or phrase that signifies and distinguishes products or services from a specific source. This means it’s not only corporations that can possess a trademark, individuals or other legal entities can too. For instance, you could encounter a trademark on a product packaging, label, voucher, or even on the product itself. Trademarks associated with services are often referred as service marks.


How Can I Protect My Trademark?

To safeguard your trademark, you can arrange for its protection on a national, regional, or even international level. This would require you to file a registration application with the appropriate trademark office, and of course, pay the necessary fees. For international protection, you’d need to apply separately to each country’s office where you desire protection.

In Singapore specifically, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) is the place to register your trademark. Before you get to that point though, it’s smart to check whether your chosen trademark significantly resembles any existing ones. Once the application is filed, it usually takes about a year before you obtain approval.


What Advantages Does Registering a Trademark Offer?

When you successfully register a trademark, you essentially secure an exclusive right to use it. This means that either you alone can use it, or you could license its use to another party for a given fee. Crucially, having your trademark registered allows for clear legal standing, which bolthers your rights, for instance when it comes to lawsuits.


How Long Does a Trademark Last?

The period a trademark registration covers can vary, but it generally lasts 10 years. This is also the case in Singapore, where the validity spans 10 years and can also be renewed upon expiry. Remember, your trademark rights are considered personal property and they are protected by court rulings.


What Counts as a Trademark?

A trademark might include a single word, a combination of words, characters, and numbers, or could even be comprised of drawings, symbols, and three-dimensional features like product design or packaging. But there’s more; trademarks can also extend to non-visible signs such as sounds or smells, even specific hues used as distinctive features can be trademarks.