Frequently Ask Questions on Trademark Registration

What is a Trademark?

A trademark is a distinctive sign used in commerce to identify and distinguish the source of the goods and/or services of one trader from those of others. A trademark can be any letters, numerals, words, phrase, symbol, design, or a combination of the above.

What is the difference between trademark, copyright and patent?

Trademark provides an exclusive right to use a distinctive mark to indicate the source of goods and/or services. Patent generally protects invention and new technologies. Copyright protects creative output such as literary, artistic, dramatic or musical works.

What is the difference between the TM and ® symbols?

The TM symbol merely indicates that you are using the mark as a trademark. The TM symbol can be used on both registered or unregistered mark. The ® symbol indicates that the mark is registered. In Singapore, it is an offence to use the ® symbol unless you are in receipt of the registration certificate for the trademark.

What is the difference between registered and unregistered trademark?

Registered trademark has been officially approved and recorded on the Trademark Register. Registration of trademark is direct proof of ownership. On the other hand, unregistered trademark may be recognized through the Common Law as the property of the owner, depending on the circumstances.

Can I register my company name as trademark?

Yes. While a Singapore registered company will have company name registration, this is not the same as registering the name as a trademark. Registration of company name does not gives you any proprietary rights - only trademark can give you this kind of protection.

Can I register slogan as a trademark?

If your slogan is distinctive and serves to identify the source of origin of your goods/services, then you might be able to register it as a trademark.

Can I register my domain name as a trademark?

Domain name registration does not take into account trademarks that may already exist. Since domain name is registered on a first come first serve basis, you should register your domain name as a trademark as soon as practicable.

Do I need worldwide trademark registrations to cover Internet sales?

Generally, your trademark registrations need only cover your intended markets. However, if your Internet business extends to countries where third party has protection over the same trademark in the same category of goods and/or services, you could face an infringement problem.

Who can register a trademark?

The application for registration of a trademark must be filed in the name of the trademark owner; usually a company, individual, partnership or lawful associations etc.

What is classification of goods and services?

The scope of protection of a trademark registration is determined by the goods/services in relation to which the trademark is registered. Singapore uses the International Classification of Goods and Services (ICGS) under the Nice Agreement to classify registrations for the purposes of registering trademarks. This classification divides the list of goods/services into 34 classes of goods and 11 classes of services.

What is a trademark opposition?

An opposition is a trademark process that can prevent a trademark applicant from obtaining registered rights to a trademark.

How long does it take to resolve a trademark opposition?

Some cases can be resolved fairly quickly if parties are able to achieve amicable settlement. Each opposition case involves different commercial issues and much depends on the attitude of the parties.

How long does it take to register a trademark?

The whole process from filing up to registration usually takes about 6 – 8 months in Singapore for a straightforward application. Once registered, the protection dates from the time your application was received at the Registry. This estimated timeframe varies throughout the world.

How long does trademark registration last?

In Singapore, a trademark is initially registered for 10 years and continues indefinitely as long as the renewal fees are paid every ten years.

May I allow third party to use my registered trademark?

Yes. You may sell or transfer rights to a trademark through assignments. You may also license rights to the trademark.

Can I lose my rights to a trademark?

It is possible for third party to file an application to invalidate or cancel a registered trademark. In Singapore, a registered trademark can be invalidated if the owner fails to use the mark for a continuous period of 5 years. Other grounds for invalidation include the registered trademark has become a generic term in the trade or the use made of it has lead to a possibility of misleading the public.

I re-organized my business. Can my new business file an application to renew the trademark registration?

A trademark registration must be renewed by the registrant who appears on the Register. If ownership of the registered trademark changes, the registrant as recorded on the Register should file a recordal of assignment to transfer ownership to the new business. Likewise, if the registrant’s name changes, the registrant has to file a recordal of change of name to effect the changes.

What is the role of a trademark agent?

Trademark agent acts on behalf of the proprietor of a trademark. The trademark agent deals with registration procedures, assists with technical examination including classification and specification issues as well as handling opposition cases. The trademark agent can provide advice on strategies in circumstances where an application is challenged or opposed.