Entrepreneurs are considered to be sharp-witted people who
create or recognise opportunities and are well-positioned to take
advantage of them. By way of innovative thinking and the
willingness for risk taking, new processes and products are created
and new companies are positioned to enter the markets.
Many entrepreneurs in the current economic climate in South
Africa and abroad are unaware that intellectual property, more
specifically registered trade marks, can assist them in serving as
security for a debt or obligation while at the same time affording
the owner with exclusive statutory rights to monopolise and use
their brand in trading in relation to a specific product. Trade
marks are also seen as providing a legal basis for companies'
Intellectual property is a synonym for intangible assets to
distinguish them from tangible assets, in that intangible assets
are something of value that cannot be physically touched, for
example, trade marks, patents, copyright and registered designs.
Branding has become commonplace and appreciated for the competitive
advantages that it offers. It has become so well recognised that
current accountancy practice requires intellectual property to be
listed on balance sheets at valuation.
Turning the focus specifically to trade marks (alongside patents
and copyright) trade marks are one of the more important
intellectual property rights and are endowed with a unique economic
function, such as quality, advertising and competitiveness. In
addition, trade marks further promote the following functions:
Help to identify the source and person/entity responsible for
products and services;
Enables consumers to choose goods and/or services with ease
Consumers will choose a particular trade mark for its known
Trade marks play an important role in advertising as consumers
are likely to base their purchase on the continuous influence of
The main economic function of trade marks is to signal quality
and goodwill to the prospective consumer.
An established trade mark is a valuable asset and may be
licensed or franchised.
It is strongly recommended that entrepreneurs, specifically in
the financial sector, protect their trade mark rights and leverage
the value thereof.
There are various avenues to explore in order to maximise the
value of one's trade mark, such as:
Intensive brand and product research through analysing and
testing the market for the need;
Extensive marketing of the brand or product to create awareness
in the public domain;
Insightful information around the goods or products to create a
need with prospective customers;
Create a brand custodian of all the registered trade
Maintain registered trade marks through timeous renewal.
At Spoor & Fisher, as the leading intellectual property law
firm in Africa, we are committed to guide and provide entrepreneurs
with innovative solutions and to place their interests first. We
are a team of expert professionals who make every effort to provide
clients with fast, accurate and personalised service that exceeds
Our aim is to ensure that our clients' intellectual property
rights are enforced and protected through all available means. We
combine powerful intellect and the diverse skills and talents of
our professional team to ensure that your brand is secured and
Going back in history, it is fascinating to realise that
entrepreneurship dates back to the 18th century, when innovative
people like Samuel Crompton (spinning mule), UK; Milton Hershey
(candy maker), USA, James Watt (steam engine), used creative ideas
to develop new processes and products.
Their innovative ideas all constitute valuable intellectual
property rights which are protectable through patents (spinning
mule; candy maker and steam engine), copyright (the drawings and
designs in material form), trade marks (the branding of the process
and/or product) and registered designs (for a specific functional
or aesthetic feature).
When protected, the value of intellectual property extends far
beyond an individual product or process.
At Spoor & Fisher we believe that intellectual property
created should be owned.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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It has always been the practice of the Industrial Property Institute of Mozambique to prohibit the refiling of trade marks that have been finally refused, which has posed a serious obstacle to trade mark applicants...
A recent Australian decision on keyword usage of a registered trade mark is in line with decisions in many other countries, including South Africa.
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