How Can I Protect My Business from Imitators?

Last updated on December 28, 2023

Trademark Registration

You may protect your business name and/or any related business slogans by registering them as a trade mark in the relevant categories of goods and/or services provided by your business. This prevents others from using a business name which is similar-sounding to yours, or makes use of similar fonts or colours in its signage such that the public is likely to get confused.

In 2023, MindChamps – a preschool chain headquartered in Singapore – won a trademark infringement case in China over a “copycat” school in Xi’an. The school had illegally replicated MindChamps’ trademark-protected corporate identity, including the logo, student uniforms and interior decoration designs. The school’s similar-sounding name “Maijiesi” was also likely to cause confusion and thus constituted trademark infringement and unfair competition.

For more on trade mark registration (including what may and may not be registered as trade marks), see our article on how to register a trade mark in Singapore.

Patent Registration

If your business involves the selling of new devices which you have invented, you may apply for a patent which protects the patented invention from being “reverse-engineered” and sold by competitors. However, your invention will have to fulfil the requirements for patentability, namely novelty, possession of inventive step and capability of industrial application. For more information on these, find out more about the requirements for patent registration.

Tort of Passing Off

You may be able to sue another business for the tort of passing off if it attempts to pass itself off as your own. In order to succeed in court, it must be shown that your business has acquired goodwill in Singapore, that there has been misrepresentation on the part of the other business that its goods or services are the same as yours (especially if the public becomes confused as a result), and that your business has or is likely to suffer damage from such misrepresentation.

Copyright

Finally, any write-ups, pictures (graphic design, photographs etc), music jingles, videos and so on are automatically protected by copyright – it need not be applied for. For a general overview on copyright law in Singapore, see our article on copyright law.