Trade Marks: What Is Allowed?

Trade marks – those words, phrases or graphics that has been registered as belonging to only one company – are not always easy to choose. When you have to decide on a trade mark, you don’t only have to make sure you are not infringing on anyone else’s trade mark by doing a thorough trade mark search (you cannot apply for or trade as a similar name as the registered name of another company), but you also need to have knowledge of what is generally not allowed in trade mark names. Here are a few things to watch out for…

A Starting Point

Before you choose a trade mark name, make sure you speak to a legal person about all the legalities involved in this process. Do as many Internet searches as possible and get ‘trade mark wise’.

There are various laws or acts that stipulate precisely what is allowed and what not legally within your own country. Get hold of the appropriate records, either on the Internet or from your legal representative, and get familiar with all the stipulations. Once you have done all this necessary reading, you should have a very good idea about what would be infringing someone else’s trade mark name.

Names That Won’t Be Trade Marked

If the trade mark name you have chosen is found to be misleading in any way, the name won’t be successfully registered. You cannot, for example, register your company name as ‘Global Chicken’ if you are only going to be providing fried Chicken. ‘Global Chicken’ might suggest to customers that they will find chicken dishes from all over the world.

It is also not generally accepted having a nation’s name in your trade mark name. One country cannot claim to be representing their country above all other similar businesses. A bad reputation in such a case could also reflect badly on a particular country, or even be bad for business if a certain client does not particularly like the country mentioned in your trade mark name!

Surnames and Generic Names

Surnames and generic terms (such as radios, refrigerators, etc.) are generally not accepted as trade mark names. Trade marking certain generic terms such as refrigerators or radios makes it almost impossible for other businesses to describe their own services, as it would mean infringing someone’s trade mark!

In the case of surnames, a name might be trade marked if it can be shown that a certain company has traded under the relevant name for many years and that people associate the name with goods or services provided by the specific company.

Other names that may not be registered as trade marks, involve anything that is scandalous or suggests false connotations to celebrities.

If you do your home work and read up on all the legalities involved in registering a trade mark name, you shouldn’t have any problem! If you want to make extra sure that you are not infringing anyone’s trade mark, ask for the help of a professional!