Important to realize, every business operation requires trademark registration. For a brief explanation, one needs to register their company name, brand name, or intellectual property for a trademark because if not, there is a huge possibility that someone else will do so and you will lose the right to use it.
For instance, do you have that mark, that word, that sign or brand that you identify with? Well, until you register it, it is not yours and you have no exclusive claim to it. A trademark is a mark or sign that distinguishes the goods of one entity from another.
The trademark may consist of one or more distinctive word, letter, numbers, drawings, pictures, signatures, colors or a combination of all these. ServiceMark is a sign which serves to distinguish services of one entity from another. It may consist of the same characteristics as those of a Trade Mark.
Who Can Register A Trademark?
Any individual, company, partnership or society can register a Trademark as long as they meet the necessary requirements. It is a great risk if one undertakes business with original products but do not opt to register them all for a trademark. There comes a lot of benefits with trademark registering.
It can happen that without a trademark, you can be kept from continuing with your business or growing out of your place. However, with a registered trademark, you can legally take action against people who are using your brand name without consent.
Why register your Trade Mark?
It helps distinguish your products from that of other competitors. Registration of your Trade Mark gives you an exclusive right to that mark. It is evident that the mark is yours and affords you legal rights against others who may want to infringe your right to that mark.
Examples of Trademarks include Jogoo which Unga Limited owns, Toyota by Toyota Company.
These marks register under the respective companies and as such, they have exclusive rights to those marks. The process of registration also involves extensive searches to ensure that your mark does not resemble any existing Trademarks. This helps you avoid being sued for infringing on other peoples Trademark.
Brand Name Trade Mark Protection
In simple terms, trademarks are legal protections that prevent others from reproducing or using identifying features of your brand. Such as your company name or logo – without your permission.
This even extends to the use of names or logos that could be easily confused with yours. All brand elements are trademarked as soon as they’re in use. Further, if you design a logo and put it on your website, it’s technically illegal for someone else to copy it.
However, it’s wise to formally register your trademarks. If you don’t, it can be more difficult to take action against anyone who tries to steal your branding.
Generally speaking, the consequences of choosing not to register a trademark for your company name or logo can be severe. Someone may imitate your brand to sell customers low-quality versions of your products.
In the event that the trademark examiners allow a trademark that is closely related to yours, you have the right to oppose it before it’s officially registered.
To expound, when you register, you obtain intellectual property rights. It gives a company the exclusive rights to have its goods and services be covered by the trademark symbol, mark, tagline, etc. that is registered.
With these rights, the owner can sue anyone who commits infringement or inappropriately uses the mark without consent. You won’t be the one who will be receiving a “cease and desist” letter, but with the rights that come with registering a trademark, you can be the one to send it to the other party that is using the name that you owned, making your customers confused.
Having your trademark symbol registered, it can be used as a pledge in securing loan facilities same as a land or house (immovable properties) that can also be pledged.
Also, having your trademark registered gives you security and assurance because you can use it every time without fearing that you are violating the intellectual property rights of the other business owners.
With your intellectual property registered, the other traders will be prevented from having a similar trademark symbol as yours that relates to the goods and services that your business offers.
Having the ® symbol can stop people in their tracks, making them see that you have the rights to whatever trademark they plan to make that is identical to yours.
Since your trademark is registered, people can see it when they check the system for trademarks. This allows them to have a look at what they can’t copy and that would include yours. This will deter people from registering conflicting trademarks that could cause confusions and problems in the future.
Requirements for registration of a Trademark in Kenya
There are a lot of reasons why you should register your intellectual property for a trademark. Those reasons build a peace of mind in you when you know why you should opt to register your brand name or company. Below are the main requirements during the trademark registration process.
- Name of a company, individual or firm, represented in a special or particular manner.
- The signature of the applicant for registration.
- An invented word or invented words.
- Any other distinctive mark.
Procedure for registration of a Trademark in Kenya
The Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) is the body that mandates the registration of Trademarks.
A search conducts before applying for registration. To find out if the Trademark can register or not. Registration will not go through if the mark/ sign resembles another registered Trademark. Though not mandatory it is important to conduct a search before proceeding with the registration process. To avoid spending time and money on an application that will not go through. The relevant form is Form TM 27.
Application for registration of Trademark
You conduct the Preliminary search and the mark can be registered. The next step will be to make an application for registration. This involves Form TM 2 and TM 32. For foreign companies to register their Trademarks in Kenya. They have to appoint an agent in Kenya and as such, they will. In addition to Form, TM 2 and TM 32 require Form TM 1 for an appointment of the agent.
At this stage, the Registrar examines your application to ensure filing of the correct documents. Also, your mark does not resemble any registered Trademark. An examination report issue. This report will inform you whether your mark approves for registration or not. If it approves you will require to pay the advertisement fee and registration fee.
If the Registrar approves the mark for registration he will instruct you to pay an advertisement fee. Then, the mark advertises in the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) journal for 60 days. This is to allow any person that opposes the registration of your mark raises their objection.
However, if no opposition it proceeds to registration. If opposition raises, a notice of opposition in the form of Form TM 6 is filed and opposition proceedings begin.
This is the final stage in the registration process. If no opposition raises upon advertisement, the application will register. Then, the Registrar will issue a certificate of registration of a Trademark.
Forms for Registration of a Trademark
- TM 27 (not mandatory but advisable)
- 2 – Application for registration of Trademark
- 32 – Application to enter or alter the address of service
- 1 – For foreign applicants (appointment of agents)
Find out more about trademark here.
So go ahead and register that mark in Kenya that distinguishes your product, your services from your competitor’s. A good brand name can be an entity’s biggest asset.
If you would like to register a trademark in Kenya, please write to the Kenya Industrial Property Institute through firstname.lastname@example.org or reach The jmexclusives Team for more support and advice. All the best though.
For more useful and related resourceful links, please see below;
- The jmexclusives: Training and Learning Guides
- My Venture Pad: Why Registering for a Trademark Creates Peace of Mind for Business Owners