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Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Dangers of Using Unregistered Trademarks

DANGERS OF USING UNREGISTERED TRADEMARKS AND BENEFITS OF REGISTRATION
dangersWhat is a trade mark?. Different authorities have given the meaning of a trademark. The Trademarks Act 2010 of Uganda defines a trademark to mean: a sign or mark or combination of signs or marks capable of being represented graphically and capable of distinguishing goods or services of one undertaking from those of another undertaking.
For every successful and time tested corporate brand (trademark), that everyone wants to associate with, behind the scenes, a lot of effort and resources have been sunk into intricate trademark development and aggressive protection. Company brands and trademarks are amongst a company’s valuable assets. A study done by the UK’s IP office reveals that an estimated 6% of most company investments are spent in company brand protection.
Branding starts and centers around your use of distinctive images, symbols, colors and styles, and caricatures, which most appropriately separate and preposition your goods, or services as unique from others on the same market, giving both a protection to your customers and also acquiring brand image and build up brand loyalty amongst your consumers.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Why You Should Hire A Trademark Attorney

CONSIDERING TRADEMARK REGISTRATION IN UGANDA? THIS IS WHY YOU SHOULD HIRE A TRADEMARK ATTORNEY

Trademark owners who attempt to file and prosecute their own trademark applications work on the believe that by not hiring a trademark attorney, they will save on the attorney fees. From experience, these trademark owners end up spending more money in the process. They make many mistakes in the process and pay trademark attorneys later on to correct the mess. It is understandable that many times, this group of trademark owners are small companies in their infancy, or individuals that are trying to minimize legal fees while attempting to obtain valuable trademark protection. Nevertheless, there is significant long term damage that can be caused by filing your own trademark, or relying on a one-size-fits-all service provided by non trademark attorneys.

I have attended to many clients that have filed their own trademark applications, and some that have used non-attorney services. These clients are usually up against some very tough rejections from the Trademark Office, or are having other difficulties with the trademark prosecution process. Inevitably, these clients wind up spending more money to pay an attorney to fix the application, or to re-file the application, than it would have cost to hire an experienced trademark attorney to file the application for them. In over 60% of the cases, I have had to file fresh trademark applications on learning that the non-trademark attorney did not file the right documents or missed a crucial stage in the process that rendered what was done of no effect.

Conduct a Trademark Search!

WHY YOU NEED TO CONDUCT A TRADEMARK SEARCH

An intending applicant for registration of a trademark shall first carry out a search to ascertain whether the trademark exists in the register (section 5). 

The motive behind initial trademark search is to reduce the number of opposition to trademarks registration proceedings. It is also important to conduct a search prior to launching a new brand/ product into the market. You do not want to be faced with law suits and court injunctions immediately after spending alot of money on the new brand because it is infringement of an existing trademark. Not long ago, Facebook was forced to pull down the business page of houzify.com after complaints of trademark infringement were made by houzz.com. At the time of it being pulled down, the Facebook page of houzify had close to 54000 followers. You don’t get such followers without effort. To get such a following on a new brand, you need to trip the effort that was used in promoting the brand that was pulled down.

Determine the Value of Your Trademark

HOW DO YOU DETERMINE THE VALUE OF YOUR TRADEMARK?

In general, the value of a trademark is based directly on the trademark’s earning power. Where little or no income history is available, however, imagination, common sense and experience may be the best guides to apply in ascertaining a trademark’s value. In addition, studies of the industry in which the trademark will be used or the products marketed, market surveys of probable sale prices and expected profits, and opinions of industry experts may also be applied.

The value of a trademark lies in the goodwill associated with that trademark. Goodwill is an intangible asset that provides added value to the trademark owner’s worth (such as a recognizable brand). However, in many cases it can be quite difficult to ascertain the goodwill and then place a true value on it at a point in time, because of the many variables that must be considered. For example, reasonable people can differ on future expectations, such as opportunities for increasing the value of the trademark and competitive threats and marketplace risks to the trademark.

Exclusive Rights to Use Trademark as a Whole

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS TO USE TRADEMARK AS A WHOLE AND NOT IN PARTS

It is a well established principle in trademarks law that the exclusive right to use a trademark applies to its use as a whole and not in parts. Many a times a trademark can be a composite trademark having various elements in it, and when the trademark is registered, the protection is provided to the mark as a whole and not in parts.

The principle was recently reinstated by the commercial court division of the high court of Uganda in the case of Tuskys (U) Limited Versus Tusker Mattresses Uganda Limited. Tuskys (U) Ltd, registered a trademark “TUSKYS” in respect of goods in Class 18. On the other hand, Tusker Mattresses Ltd a Kenyan registered holding company of Tusker mattresses (U) Limited registered a trademark in Class 16 in the name and style of: “Time To Go TUSKYS Your Friendly Supermarket”. Tusker Mattresses Uganda Limited which was assigned the trademark runs retail chain supermarkets in Kampala under the said trademark. Tuskys (U) Limited brought the suit alleging that its trademark was being infringed by the defendant who was operating its supermarkets under the name “TUSKYS”. It sought for a permanent injunction restraining the defendant from any further use of its registered trademark among other reliefs.