A trade mark is a mark that identifies and distinguishes the source of goods, used in commercial activities, of one party, such as a company or an individual. Registering a trade mark is becoming more and more important, as the number of goods and services increases in society. Today a trade mark commands very high values.
A trade mark may for example consist of a word, phrase, symbol or a combination of these. The product itself, or the product packaging, may also function as a trade mark, as for example a perfume bottle with a special design. A sound, melody and colours may also be registered as a trade mark.
The right to a trade mark means that no one but the owner of the trade mark may use it in association with their product or their services, whether on a product or its packaging, in advertising on a business document or other commercial activities. In other words, a trade mark entitles you to prevent others from copying or stealing your idea.
A trade mark registration is valid for ten years and may subsequently be renewed for ten years at a time. If a trade mark application leads to a registration, the protection is valid from the filling date of the application. In the event of an infringement of this exclusive right, the owner of the trade mark may sue the offender. The court has the power to prohibit any further infringement, and to order damages to be paid. In certain circumstances, the infringement may be punishable by fines or even a term of imprisonment. If a registered trade mark has not been used for an uninterrupted period of five years, the registration may be declared null and void via a general court of law.