Trademark is a form of intellectual property, with roots from common law and the English system as far back as 1875.
Trademarks are basically used to distinguish goods and services among competitors.
It helps the public identify a brand by just seeing their logo and recognizing the product or service. It could take the form of logo, signs, symbols, name or word which must not be illegal, deceptive or immoral.
Trademarks in Nigeria is currently regulated by the Nigerian Trademark Act 1990.
Upon registration, it enures for a period of 7 years which is renewable. However, it must satisfy the stringent condition of being distinctive so as not to confuse or mislead the public.
This is a pertinent step in any business minded venture because once you trademark the name of your business, you are protected from anyone using your trademark and laying claim to it as the law protects whoever is, first in time.
It also gives you rights to legally protect yourself and stop a fraudulent party from attempting to use something similar enough to confuse innocent customers.
Also, a trademark stands as an asset which holds value and can be sold or licensed to a third party. In the U.S, banks won’t oblige your request to open a business account under your business name if it is not trademarked.
In Nigeria, if you experience a trademark infringement, you can seek recourse in a competent law court by virtue of Nigerian Trademark Act 1990.
A good example of a fashion trademark is the louboutin red sole which was trademarked in 2008.
Summarily below are some importance of trademarks;
1) They stand as an effective communication tool for a company to the public.
2) Trademarks are a valuable asset as the more your business grows, the more valuable your brand will be.
3) It provides trademark owners with a civil remedy against cyber-squatting which is basically the registering of other’s trademarks as domain names and profiting from the sale of those domain names.
A good example can be seen in Panavision Int’l, L.P. v Toeppen
4) A registered trademark can be assigned to another party by the holder.
5) A registered trademark holder reserves the right to use the ® on the logos.
The court in Big O Tire Dealers, Inc v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co explained that, generally, a trademark infringement suit results from a plaintiff having ‘a substantial investment in a well established trademark’ and seeking lost profits/damages based on the second user’s attempts to trade on the goodwill of the mark of the first user.
Now, in citing a good example of how much a trademark is worth is to look at reports carried last week that Sean Carter aka Jay-z is filling the required paper work to own the Roc-A-Fella diamond hand sign. He wants to own the exclusive hand symbol to be used by him in a variety of entertainment services in either music, video, film or t.v (as reported in tmz). Just to note that this won’t be his first as he trademarked the names of his twins before telling the world their names.
So in summary, it is highly advisable that a business protects it’s future interests by filing a trademark at the earliest possible time as the law recognizes first in time through a trademark agent.
Credits: TMZ, Trademark Act 1990.
Disclaimer: This article was written by Henry Ezikeoha and is for educational and informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. The content contained in this article is not legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific matter or matters. This article does not constitute or create an attorney-client relationship between Legal Bants and you or any other user. The law may vary based on the facts or particular circumstances or the law in your state. You should not rely on, act, or fail to act, upon this information without seeking the professional counsel of a legal practitioner licensed in your state. If this article is considered an advertisement, it is general in nature and not directed towards any particular person or entity.