Trademarks are all around us! Not all of us, however, understand their legal and commercial contextand their very high importance, especially in protecting the goodwill of a business.

A trademark protects the name or symbol with which the business carries out its activities. It can be a word, a phrase, a symbol or a design which identifies and differentiates the business' source of products and services from those of other businesses, and it shows the commercial origin and the quality of these products and services. It has the power to distinguish goods, services and whole businesses.

A trademark is a unique mark which the business has developed to brand its products and services. Undeniably, a well-chosen trademark can make a major contribution tothe success of a promotional campaign of a business. The proprietor of the trademark can use it as an advertising tool so as to boost the business's reputation and goodwill.

The best way to protect a mark is to register it as a trademark. By registering the trademark, it is protected from being used and exploited by others. That is to say that, having a registered trademark, you have the exclusive right to use your trademark in relation to the goods and services for which it is registered and in case a third party uses your trademark to advertise its own products or services, you may sue the third party for trademark infringement or passing off. It is very important that once the trademark is registered, goodwill is not required to be proved in court procedures.

There are three options to apply for a trademark under the Cypriot regime. The first one is to file a national application to the Intellectual and Industrial Property Department of the Registrar. Alternatively, a European application to the European Union Intellectual Property Office for a community trademark (EUIPO) can also be filed. Finally, the third option is to file an international application to World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). In the present article, only the procedure for the first option is covered.

The requirements for filing a national application are regulated by the Trademark Law, Cap. 268. The first step is to request the Registrar to conduct a search on the Registry of Trademarks in order to ensure that there are no similar trademarks to the one you wish to apply for. This takes approximately three weeks and, although it is not compulsory, it is highly recommended. Then, a trademark application must be filed along with a Power of Attorney authorizing a lawyer who is able to practise law in Cyprus to proceed with the filing of the application. A high-quality version of the trademark – in the case where it is a logo trademark – and the full details of the applicant are necessary at this stage.

After that, the Registrar publishes the trademark in the official Gazette of the Republic of Cyprus so as to give the opportunity to anyone who may wish to object to its registration to do so. If no objection is filed within two months, the fee for issuing the certificate is paid and the trademark is registered. If an objection is filed within the provided two months' period, both parties file their opinion and evidence and the Registrar decides whether the trademark will be registered or not after a hearing.

Once registered, trademarks can last indefinitely – they last forever! But it is necessary to periodically renew the registration. The national trademark is valid for seven years from the date of application and thereafter it can be renewed every fourteen years

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.