By Yasara Kodagoda
“Intellectual property” has been referred to as “creations of the mind”. These creations can take many different forms, such as artistic expressions, signs, symbols, and names used in commerce, designs, and inventions. A “Trademark” is a form of Intellectual Property. It is essentially a design, word, slogan, symbol, or combination of any of those elements that help consumers identify your products or services from the competition.
It is a form of communicating the brand’s values, beliefs, purpose, and vision through a trademark. It also distinguishes your brand from others and helps customers make purchasing decisions. When your trademark is identifiable, either by its uniqueness or reputation, customers will immediately know that when they see your mark, they are getting something specific. For example, have you ever wondered why Apple phones, laptops, and watches do not have their company name on their products? It is because of this very reason. The apple symbol that Apple Inc. uses has acquired its own uniqueness and reputation globally. Therefore, as soon as customers see the apple symbol they know and identify the product as a product from Apple Inc.
A trademark also plays a crucial role in building brand loyalty and a strong customer base. Therefore, prioritizing trademark protection is just as important for the solo entrepreneur as it is for the enterprise business. Thus, when a business holds trademark protection, it becomes easier for customers to locate the business and the services or goods offered.
While most trademarks are word marks, graphic symbols, labels, or logos, there have also been registrations of shapes of products themselves (e.g. the triangular shape of ‘Toblerone’ chocolate, or the particular shape of the ‘Coca-Cola’ bottle) and colors (the magenta color of ‘Deutsche Telekom’) and some members have allowed the registration of sounds (‘Nokia’ ringtone; ‘MGM’ lion roar) and, more recently, smells (the smell of fresh cut grass for tennis balls).
Trade, along with globalization has evolved beyond simply shipping goods across borders. Innovation, creativity, and branding represent a large amount of the value that changes hands in international trade today. The World Trade Organization (WTO) has played a significant role in order to better facilitate trade in knowledge and creativity, in resolving trade disputes over intellectual property, and in assuring WTO members the latitude to achieve their domestic objectives.
It provides laws and standards in relation to the protection of Trademarks along with many other forms of Intellectual property rights (Copyrights and related rights, Geographical Indications, Industrial Designs, Patents, Layout-Designs, etc) by way of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The TRIPS Agreement, negotiated during the 1986-94 Uruguay Round, introduced intellectual property rules into the multilateral trading system for the first time. It establishes minimum standards of protection, enforcement, and dispute settlement that each government has to give to the intellectual property held by nationals of fellow WTO members. It serves to protect producers against unfair competition from other producers seeking to free-ride on the goodwill and positive reputation earned by the trademark owner.
Therefore, it is evident that the protection of a trademark is of utmost importance. Thus, if you are an entrepreneur or a business owner and care about the success of your business, you should not overlook the importance of protecting your trademark. It should be a top priority, it is an important part of running a successful company.
The views and opinions expressed in articles submitted to the Comparative Advantage Blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Moot Court Bench