Trade mark

A trade mark registration prevents others from using a mark that is confusingly similar to your registered trade mark.

You can file a trade mark for the following:

  • a WORD (e.g. “Nike”);
  • a LOGO (e.g. the Swoosh); and
  • a PAY-OFF line (e.g. “Just Do It”).

nike trademark

Trade mark Tip 1

Few applicants will qualify to trade mark their COLOUR (e.g. red for Coke), or their 3D SHAPE (e.g. the iconic Coke bottle). Our advice is not to go there – even Cadbury’s could not secure trade mark protection for the colour purple.

Coke trade markCoke2 trade markCoke3 trade markCoke4 trade mark

Trade mark Tip 2

Your trade mark must not be descriptive. Examples of descriptive trade marks are:

  • “Green Apples” if you are a fruitier. However, since apples have nothing to do with computers, this mark can be filed in the computer class.
  • “Rosebank Hairdresser”, if you are a hairdresser in Rosebank.
  • “High-Resolution” for television screens. Having said this, the mark “Sharp” managed over time to generate sufficient reputation to be allowed as a trade mark. Much use over time also helped Audi’s “vorsprung durch technik” to be recognised as a trade mark.

descriptive trade markDescriptive trade mark 2

Trade mark Tip 3

After you have secured a trade mark, don’t allow it to become generic, i.e. for the trade mark to be descriptive of your product. Examples of once-valuable trade marks that became generic and were lost include:

  • Hoover;
  • Escalator;
  • Thermos flask;
  • Nylon; and
  • Liquorice Allsorts.

Hoover trade markLiquorice trade markLiquorice trade mark
The trade mark “Vaseline” came very close to becoming a generic term for petroleum jelly. to save the mark, Vaseline was forced to extend its range of products to include creamy hand lotion.

Vaseline trade mark 1Vaseline trade mark 2Vaseline trade mark 3Vaseline trade mark 4Vaseline trade mark 5

Trade mark Tip 4

Get it right from the start. Call us to discuss your trade mark with a trade mark attorney. The first step is to conduct a registrability search (R2,500 plus vat) – it is better to check for conflicting marks / use before filing than to be forced to re-brand your goods / services in 12 months’ time. Thereafter, file a trade mark for only R4,090 plus vat.

Alternatively, file your South African trademark application online:

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