Conducting a complete search of your mark before filing an application is very important because the results may identify potential problems, such as a likelihood of confusion with a prior registered mark or a mark in a pending application. A search could save you the expense of applying for a mark in which you will likely not receive a registration because another party may already have stronger rights in that mark. Also, the search results may show whether your mark or a part of your mark appears as generic or descriptive wording in other registrations, and thus is weak and/ or difficult to protect.
WIPO defines a trademark as a distinctive sign, a symbol that distinguishes the trademark owner’s goods and services from those of competitors. The use of signs to distinguish merchants’ products first became significant with the development of trade, and is now considered a key tool for both businesses and consumers. It is often said that nowadays a trademark is one of the most valuable assets, if not the most valuable, of an organisation. For consumers a trademark reflects the image of the company and therefore has commercial value. From the date a trademark is registered with the competent authority, generally the Patent and Trademark Office, the holder has exclusive rights of exploitation. A trademark can be registered for 7 to 20 years and protection can be renewed indefinitely. During this time the owner can use, sell, license or merchandise the trademark, and of course prevent its unauthorized use. As the trademark represents the values of the company it represents, the owner should ensure that no other organization attempts to be illegally associated with these values by incorrect use of the protected trademark. In order to maintain their rights, the owner of the trademark must make proper use of the trademark and pay annual fees. If the mark is not exploited for five consecutive years trademark protection is lost.