A business name tells a lot about a company. After all, it is what customers see first, and where they usually base their impressions on what the business has on its sleeves.
It is a battle to come up with catchy names, especially in the competitive landscape of Singapore. Registering your business name does not automatically stop others from using the name as a domain name or a trade mark. If the company is serious about protecting its company name and brand in the city-state, then applying for a trade mark at the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) is a must.
A trademark is a sign used in the process of business to make the goods and services distinctive from those of other traders. Registering a trademark is territorial, meaning it grants the owner statutory rights to use it in the country where it is filed. However, it should be noted that a trademark registered in Singapore has no legal rights overseas. Also, to be taken note of is the fact that registering a trade mark does not mean that the business can readily use it as a company name.
What to do before you apply
In registering a trade mark, the company should determine if the mark is distinctive in relation to its goods and services. It should also not in any way be similar to any previous mark in relation to similar goods and services. It would be good to make a quick search on IPOS Search & Enquiry for similar marks.
The scope of the protection should also be determined by the company. These goods and services should also be classified according to class under the International Classification of Goods and Services.
Companies are required to state the exact class number and the appropriate description of the goods and services they wish to have a trade mark on. IPOS has a classification database where businesses can search for appropriate description.
The Application Process
The process of applying for a trademark is as easy as 1-2-3. Applications can be submitted through IPOS online platform or by sending them to the Registrar of Trade Marks. The business is allowed to file for several classes of goods and services within the same application. To get an official filing date, the company should ensure that they have the following requirements
- Request statement
- Name and address
- A clear representation or image of the mark.
- List of goods and services that will be using the said mark
- Declaration of intention to use the trademark.
- Paid fees ($341 for online filing, $374 for manual filing
The fees can be paid through NETS, cheque, money order in Singapore dollars, cashcard, and General Interbank Recurring Order.
The application will be scrutinized in around five to six months from the filing date. Companies will receive notification from the IPOS once the application is in order for acceptance and publication.
Examination of Marks
Once a company fulfils all the filing requisites, IPOS will examine if the mark could be registered according to Trade Marks Act. By this time, other fees might apply. To put into effect the amendments to the application, a $40 fee might be required.
Should a company unable to satisfy the requirements set forth by the office, it will receive a Notice of Deficiency from IPOS. The applicant is then required to settle the deficiencies within the time period stated in the notice.
Publication of the Trademark
If the mark is deemed acceptable for registration, it will be published and listed in the Trademarks Journal, where any party who would want to oppose the registration of the trademark may lodge a complaint at IPOS.
If there are no oppositions the IPOS will issue a Certificate of Registration. This means that the trademark would be granted legal protection for as long as 10 years. The same thing applies if the applicant wins the opposition hearing.
Once the trade mark is already granted to the company, it should still continue to monitor for any imitations or sound-alikes. This way, they can timely identify potential infringement cases and enforce immediate actions.
Corporate Services can make the work easier
For many companies, the process of applying for a trademark might be too much work to handle. It may also be costly, should there be a misstep. This strongly calls for businesses to tap on corporate services to make sure that the application for trademark goes smoothly. Whether choosing a right business name or seeking for advice on trademark registration, corporate services can help businesses avoid potential risks and ballooning costs.
This is particularly helpful especially for small companies with limited resources, as corporate services can help them incorporate their business and manage their finances before applying for a trademark. Once the company incorporation is done and funds are neatly managed, businesses can now look into applying another layer of protection to their names and brands.