3 Reasons to Register Trade Marks for Singapore Businesses
A trademark is a sign (such as a brand name or logo) that your business can register to distinguish your goods or brand from those of other businesses.
According to the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), a trademark can be:
“any letter, word, numeral, device (drawing or design), name, brand, label, aspect of packaging, shape, colour, sound, or a combination of these elements”.
The owner of a trademark has the exclusive right to use the mark within the class(es) of goods and services that it has been registered under, and can stop competitors from doing the same.
Generally, you are not required to register a trademark in Singapore. However, there are important benefits of doing so, which this article will share with you.
1. Prevent Others from Registering a Similar Trademark
Once you’ve registered your trademark, others will not be able to register a mark similar to yours in categories of goods or services identical or similar to the one yours was registered in.
If they attempt to do so, the trademark registrar (being IPOS in Singapore) may refuse to register their mark. This means that your mark may be protected in this way without you needing to take any action.
2. Easier to Enforce a Registered Trademark
Enforcement of the trademark means preventing the other person from using it by filing for a court order known as an injunction.
Furthermore, if you suffered a loss or if the infringer profited from using your trademark, you may receive monetary compensation for that person’s use of the trademark without your permission.
It is much easier to enforce a registered trademark than an unregistered sign.
With a registered trademark, all you generally need to do to prevent others from using it in their business is to prove that you have registered the mark, that the infringing mark is similar or identical to yours, and that the infringing mark is likely to cause confusion to the public.
However, if your sign is not registered as a trademark, preventing others from using it will require you to prove the tort of passing off. This requires you to prove that your sign had accumulated business goodwill, that there was a dishonest misrepresentation on the part of the person copying your sign, and that you had suffered damage, where these requirements may be more difficult to prove.
3. Provides as a Trustworthy Ground for Leasing or Selling Your Sign
A sign can be licensed to others for use in a franchise, or sold outright. This is regardless of whether your sign has been registered as a trademark or not.
However, it will generally be easier to lease or sell your sign if it has been registered as a trademark. This is because its registration, to some extent, proves that your mark is not infringing an existing trademark, and you can officially transfer ownership to the buyer by registering the transfer.
Without registering your sign as a trademark, it may be difficult to prove that you did not copy the sign from elsewhere or that you are its true owner. Registering your trademark thus gives the buyer more confidence in receiving it.
There is a fee of $240-$371 for each trademark filed in each category of goods and services.
When the trademark application is being assessed, the registrar may require amendments to the application, such as if the mark is too similar to a previously registered mark or other reasons. If so, you will have a chance to amend the application to comply, subject to a $40 fee.
Furthermore, a trademark registration is only valid for 10 years. After which, it may be renewed for further periods of 10 years, subject to a renewal fee of either $380 (if the renewal is filed before expiry) or $560 (if the renewal is filed after expiry) per renewal.
Continued use of trademark
Additionally, you must continue to use your trademark or it may be revoked after 5 years of not being used.
Registering your trademark overseas
Registering your trademark in Singapore will also allow you to register it in other jurisdictions overseas via the Madrid Protocol, which is a system for registering trademarks in multiple countries with a single application.
This is useful if you intend to expand your business overseas, as the Madrid Protocol process is much simpler and more cost-effective than separately registering your trademark in multiple jurisdictions.
For more information, please see our article on registering trademarks internationally via the Madrid Protocol.
Given the above-mentioned benefits, you may wish to go ahead and register a trademark. Indeed, given the relatively low fees as well, many businesses do register their trademarks.
While it is possible to register a trademark by yourself, you may want to engage a trademark lawyer to help you with this process.
The lawyer will be able to check if there are any previously-registered trademarks similar to yours, advise you on your trademark application’s chances of success and also liaise with the registrar on your trademark application on your behalf.
This way, you maximise your chances of having your trademark accepted and registered, thus potentially saving on amendment fees and having to spend additional time having your trademark registered.
- Is it Illegal to Sell Replicas of Branded Goods in Singapore?
- Defences to Trade Mark Infringement in Singapore
- The Tort of Passing Off: Someone has imitated the branding of my business
- What are the criminal offences relating to trade marks?
- I have received a letter for trademark infringement. What should I do?
- My trademark has been used without my permission. What do I do?
- Businesses: Stop Losing Money to Sellers of Infringing Goods. Here’s How to Bring Criminal Charges against Them.
- Protect Your Brand: How to Oppose Registration of Copycat Trade Marks
- How to Revoke Another Business' Trade Mark for Non-Use So You Can Register Your Own
- Cybersquatting: How to Win Back Stolen Domains in Singapore
- How Can I Protect My Business from Imitators?