Suppose you are entering into a mobile store; you see then a bitten apple on some mobile phone, you realize that mobile is an Apple iPhone. This is a simple example to know what a trademark role is.
Studies show that the use of trademarks has old history its roots back in the ancient world. About 3,000 years ago, Indian artisan engraved their signatures on their products before sending them to Iran. Years later, in ancient Rome, over 100 special signs were used on Roman pottery, including the FORTIS brand, which was imitated and copied by another duo to its great popularity. Over time, the use of special marks to distinguish businesses and manufactured products has expanded, and today, these marks have become one of the key types of intellectual property rights in the business environment. To understand this, it is enough to pay attention to "Coca-Cola" and "Pepsi" drinks. Almost everyone in the world knows very well these two famous brands and distinguishes between them.
Many companies and manufacturing and service businesses have used a specific and unique design or logo to discriminate their products and services from other competitors' products. For this purpose, some companies are trying to use a particular color to make it easier to identify customers.
How trademarks are protected? Trademarks are one of the most important types of intellectual property rights. They can be protected from being abused by registering them in the intellectual property system.
In this article, we will give an overview of trademarks, their types, and the need to protect them through registration in intellectual property systems.
What is a trademark?
A trademark is a mark used to distinguish a company's goods and services from other existing products and services. This very simple definition explains very well what a trademark is and what its characteristics should be. A trademark must be "distinctive and well-defined" and, at the same time, "not misleading or misleading the customer". These two conditions can provide a formal and comprehensive definition of a trademark: "A trademark identifies the goods and products of a particular company and distinguishes them from the products of other competitors."
To better understand these two features, consider the Apple trademark. If an agricultural apple production and supply company use the word or logo "apple" as a trademark, it cannot distinguish its product from others. However, the same logo or word for a computer or mobile phone company can be quite distinctive.
A brand, in addition to being distinctive, should not be deceptive. This condition means that the trademark must not represent a quality that is not provided in the products. For example, using the "real leather" logo for products such as bags made of synthetic leather would be quite deceptive.
A brand to become well-known among users needs a lot of investment, effort, and considerable time. Naturally, such a brand is of great value and attracts many smaller and lesser-known competitors to use it to sell more of their products. The question that may arise here is how can this issue be prevented?
The most common way to protect trademarks is to register them in the intellectual property system. By registering and approving the application, you become the owner of this valuable intellectual property, and as the proprietor of the trademark, you can prevent others from using it.
It is worth noting that in some countries, unregistered trademarks are also protected, which is, of course, a less reliable way. The risk of such an approach is that unregistered marks are protected only if they have gained sufficient distinction and reputation in the market. This remarkable reputation and distinction take a long time to start a business or launch a product or service, and during this time, the brand will be completely vulnerable. Therefore, it is better to file the specific brand that you intend to invest in and you want to make it a famous brand in your work field so that you are safe from the worries related to its abuse.
Types of trademarks
Trademarks can be presented in various forms, including words, designs, letters, numbers, specific types of packaging, symbols, and so on. A trademark can consist of a family name, such as the Ford trademark, named after the company's founder, Henry Ford. Other categories of trademarks use acronyms, such as IBM. A trademark can also be a symbol of a graphic device or component as a symbol for a company's products and business, such as the Shell logo, which is a two-dimensional logo. Obviously, such brands can also be three-dimensional, such as a symbol of product packaging which is distinguished among consumers and is a kind of trademark.
Recently, we are witnessing a new type of trademark in the market and business environment called "hologram". If you look at some credit cards; you will probably see a small image that changes according to the angle of your look.
Moreover, the signs are based on sound, color or a specific scent that can be considered as a trademark.
The famous ringtones of the Nokia mobile phone in the past and the special harmony of the ringtones of Apple phones now are interesting examples of such signs. The following are examples of various types of trademarks:
Keywords: Apple, Deutsche Bank
Imaginary and contract names: Nike, Sony, Coca-Cola
Name or surname: Ford, Peugeot, Hilton (chain hotels)
Slogan: "Fly Me" (an airline)
Device or symbol: star for Mercedes-Benz, the person flying for Rolls-Royce, and flame for Shell
Issue: "4711" (cologne)
Letters: "GM", "FIAT" and "IBM"
Symbols: "Lacoste" (a small crocodile)
It should be noted that one "Service Mark" is quite similar to the "Trademark" and the only difference is that the trademark protects the goods and the other focuses on the protection of services. Due to the great overlap between the two, the concept of "Trademark" can be considered a term for both brands of products and services.
Another point about trademark registration is the possibility of registering a Collective Mark in some countries. A trademark is often registered by a company for goods or services provided by that company. However, a set of companies can register a collective mark that is mostly used for associations. An enterprise can have its own trademark and at the same time, use a collective mark such as the Association of Architects or Engineers to introduce itself.
It should be noted that there is another type of mark, called "Certificate Mark" that goods and services with this mark, in terms of origin and method of manufacture, quality, and other characteristics, are approved by the trademark owner. "ISO 9000" is one of the well-known marks of this category of trademarks, which can be used only for a group of qualified products.
Trademark and international agreements
The main reason for the growing popularity of trademarks is the strengthening of competition, especially on the international ground. In other words, with increasing competition between companies working in more than one particular country, the need for a dedicated mark to identify the company's products and services has become urgent. Such brands are often registered as simple and widespread logos, regardless of the country of origin. Well-known brands such as Benz cars, Apple phones and electronics, McDonald's burgers, and Nike sports products are some of the examples.
In order to protect trademarks internationally, the trademark owner must individually file a number of applications in the intellectual property offices of different countries (in different languages and at different costs), which will be a time-consuming and long-lasting process. To facilitate the process of international registration of trademark applications, a number of Paris Convention member states agreed on the Madrid system as the guideline for the international registration of trademarks.
The Madrid system is a special service of the World Intellectual Property Organization for the registration of trademarks on an international scale, which enables the protection of a trademark in a large number of member countries by providing the possibility of file and obtaining an international certificate.
According to the Madrid Agreement, the importation of all counterfeit goods with counterfeit trademarks that try to deceive the users in relation to the source of the goods, are prohibited and necessary measures are taken to prevent their import. With more than 1.3 million registered trademarks, the Madrid system is the best option for trademark registration, especially in export-based businesses. This system is a comprehensive and efficient solution for trademark owners who are eager to protect their trademark in various markets in the world. Whether you are a small startup or a large multinational corporation, the Madrid system helps you manage your business letters and register new brands over a wide range of geographical areas.
Considering that the Madrid system accounts for almost 80% of world trade, its usage means significant time and cost savings. A very interesting point is related to the application registration fees in the Madrid system, discounts, and incentives allocated to less developed countries. Accordingly, if the application is registered with the Intellectual Property Office of one of these countries, the basic costs will be reduced by about 90%.