Trademark is an essential part of a company’s business strategy. Protecting your trademark prevents potential competitors from taking it over unscrupulously and benefiting from the efforts already made.
In the era of globalisation, these risks are increasingly important and the existence of identical or similar trademarks held by different owners creates confusion for the consumer who can no longer distinguish the commercial origin of the product or service in question. Such confusion is particularly damaging to the reputation of a company which has not sought to protect its trademark. As you will have understood, registering a trademark is an essential asset for your company.
What are the purposes of a trademark?
- The primary function of a trademark is to distinguish the goods or services of one company from the goods and services of other companies. A trademark indicates the origin of a product or service and this function is essential for both the company and the consumer. This indication of origin provides consumers with a point of reference because the mark guarantees that the goods to which it is attached come from the same company. In addition, it guarantees a certain consistency in the quality of the product or service offered by the company.
- Another function which is inherent in the trademark is its advertising function. Trademark is the perfect medium for advertising since it serves mainly to promote a company’s products or services and, as a result, it triggers the consumer’s purchasing reflex. In fact, it is this advertising that allows the trademark to acquire a certain notoriety. Some brands are so well known that they acquire intrinsic value independently of the product or service to which they are attached.
Once the trademark is filed and registered, its owner is offered a set of prerogatives:
- the right to affix (or not to affix) his trademark on the product or service in question;
- the right to license the mark;
- the right to transfer its trademark to a third party;
- the right to sue for infringements of its trademark.
A Benelux trademark will be protected for 10 years from the filing date. Moreover, this protection is renewable indefinitely! Registering a trademark therefore provides perpetual protection, if the owner so wishes.
Where to protect your trademark?
First of all, it seems important to protect your trademark in your country of origin (i.e. where your main business is, where you develop your business first). A Belgian brand will tend to protect itself initially in Belgium (the Benelux territory). However, it is also essential to consider a more extensive protection abroad, or even internationally.
Obviously, this question is related to the opportunity of such protection and the potential commercialisation of the products or services offered by the company. It is therefore necessary to be able to consider potential markets in which trademark protection would appear necessary. From the start, a protection strategy must be put in place.
The registration of a trademark can be grouped, i.e. it can cover a number of countries:
- the Benelux deposit which covers Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg;
- the European registration which covers the territory of the 27 Member States of the European Union((In accordance with the withdrawal agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom, the United Kingdom left the European Union on 1st February 2020. The withdrawal agreement stipulates, however, that for a transitional period until 31 December 2020, EU legislation will continue to apply in and for the United Kingdom. This provision applies to the Regulations on the European Union Trademark.));
- the African Intellectual Property Organization, which covers 15 African states;
- the International deposit which covers all or part of the 85 signatory states of the Madrid Protocol.
The registration of a trademark is therefore a tool that provides a real opportunity to develop your business, build your reputation and, above all, protect your activity. The advantages resulting from it are considerable and essential nowadays in order to protect your business against competition.
Frédéric Dechamps & Adeline Balza
Would you like to know the opportunities available to protect your trademark? Contact one of our lawyers at firstname.lastname@example.org, we will be pleased to advise and assist you in this process.