Frequently asked questions

About trademarks

What is a trademark?

A trade mark is a sign (word, phrase, symbol, and/or design) that you can use to distinguish the goods or services of one enterprise from those of others. A trademark can be represented graphically in the form of your company’s logo or a signature. The term "trademark" is often used in a general sense to refer to both trademarks and service marks.  
Trademarks are protected by intellectual property rights.

By registering a trademark, you can protect your brand from being used without permission by other companies.

Once acquired, a trademark can last indefinitely if you renew it every 10 years. Because a registered trademark is a form of intellectual property, you can license or assign it to others.

What is a service mark?

A service mark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods, i.e. a service mark is a trademark for a company that provides services. Nevertheless, the term "trademark" is often used in a general sense to refer to both trademarks and service marks.

What is a class of goods and services?

A trademark can be registered in 45 classes: 34 classes of goods and 11 classes of services. The Nice Classification, established by the Nice Agreement (1957), is an international classification of goods and services applied for the registration of marks.

In each class, there are goods or services related to a certain field of activity. Classifying goods and services by class is not an easy task. For example, photography is mentioned in five different classes, whereas the service "photographing" is only placed in the 41-st class. Due to the complexity of the classification work, it is always recommended to use the services of a professional trademark attorney to apply for a trademark.

What are the dangers of using unregistered trademarks?

Until a name or logo is registered as a trademark, you cannot be certain that it belongs to you. If another person or business registers the mark first, you may find yourself in the highly inconvenient and very costly position of becoming involved in litigation and potentially having to withdraw your products, redesign your packaging and marketing literature, and pay damages or an account of profits to the registered trademark owner. Besides the quantifiable costs, you could also risk any goodwill that you may have established in the brand name over the years, over a product that you have painfully taken years to create, just because you didn't take the extra step of registering it.

Available research from world intellectual property organisation shows that over 80% of SMEs fail to register their trademarks. The majority think that it is not important to their business, with others citing lack of time, lack of understanding of the process of registration and costs associated with registration. By failing to register their trademarks, these businesses are not only damaging their brands and reputation, but also put their businesses at risk and in the end, loose out in the market battle.

Why register a trademark?

Having created a new name for their business, product or service, many companies immediately start to use it. It is not right!

It is necessary to do a couple of things: check whether this name or sign is already used by other companies in relation to similar goods or services, and then register this designation as a trademark with the patent office of the country or region (for example, European Union Patent Office) where the protection is needed.

Otherwise, there may be a situation when your company spends considerable amount of money and time on the promotion of its new brand, and as a result it turns out that a third party, the legal owner of the trademark, will prohibit you from using this mark and will demand compensation for the illegal use of someone else's trademark.

It is possible that a company may become a victim of unfair competition if another person registers it’s trademark in his name. Then this person can offer to transfer the ownership of this trademark for a lot of money or to prohibit anyone from using it. Moreover, the registered trademark owner has the right to sue you for unlawful use of the mark and seek damages.

When you register your trade mark, you’ll be able to:
• take legal action against anyone who uses your brand without your permission, including counterfeiters
• put the ® symbol next to your brand - to show that it’s yours and warn others against using it
• sell and license your brand

What can be registered as a trademark?

A trademark can consist of words, signs, designs, logos, letters, images, numerals, colours, packaging or a combination of these. The trademark is used to differentiate your goods and services from those of others. A trademark cannot be descriptive or misleading about the declared goods and services, cannot be contrary to public interests and the principles of humanity and morality.

Fictional words are usually accepted as trademarks:
Aventiq, Qinetic, Viagra;

Well-known names are also allowed for registration as trademarks if they have not been previously registered by other persons:
Mason, Wayne's Patisserie, Shakespeare shipping;

Ordinary words used in an unusual form can be registered:
Snail Plumbing, Air Publishing, Salt CDs.

What cannot be registered as a trademark?

Registration of a trademark will be refused if the trademark describes the goods or services for which registration is requested:
“Leather Bags” with regard to bags, “Japanese Dish” in relation to utensils, etc.

Experts of the Patent Office will refuse to register if the trademark is made up of descriptions specific to these goods or services:
“Very Delicious” for chocolate, “Apple” for juice, etc.

Your trademark will also not be registered if it contains offensive words or images that in any way violate the law. For example, a trademark promotes illegal activities or is misleading - trying to convince the public that your goods or services have a quality that they really do not have.

State registration as trademarks of designations similar to the degree of confusion with official names and images of especially valuable objects of cultural heritage are not allowed.

Trademarks that are identical or similar to previously registered trademarks with respect to similar goods and services may not be registered.

Is it possible to register a common word as a trademark?

Yes, it is possible, provided that this word:
- allows to distinguish your company from other companies;
- does not describe the goods or services that you produce or distribute;
- is not registered by another company and is not similar to a previously registered trademark in respect of similar goods or services;
- Not offensive;
- Does not contribute to illegal activities;
- Does not mislead consumers.

Can two different companies register the same trademark?

Yes, it is possible, provided that these trademarks are registered for various goods or services. For example:
PILOT (stationery), PILOT (food products) and PILOT (drinks)

Can I use a trademark owned by another company?

If your company’s activities coincide with those of the company that owns the registered trademark, using that trademark may become a subject of legal proceedings or even criminal prosecution. Keep in mind that trademarks are often registered not only with respect to those goods and services that the trademark owner is currently engaged in, but also for other goods and services. Therefore, the use of this trademark by you will be a violation of the rights of the rightful owner of the trademark. The only certain way to be sure that you do not infringe anyone's rights is to register your trademark with the patent office.

European Trade Marks

What is a European Union trade mark?

The European Union trade mark system consists of one single registration procedure that gives its owner an exclusive right in the 28 Member States of the European Union.

Still have questions?

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EU trademark search
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Before applying for a new trademark, it is essential to make sure that it is possible to register this trademark and it is free to use it. We examine a trademark for absolute grounds of refusal and search relevant databases for identical or similar marks among EU trademarks, EU national trademarks and international trademarks designating EU or EU member states. Based on this search and our analysis, we provide professional opinion on whether your trademark is registrable in European Union and you may proceed with registration, or there are evident obstacles to registration and certain need to perform a more thorough analysis.