If you own a business in Ireland, it is advised that you trademark any branding associated with your business to prevent any other business using your branding to sell their own product.
What is a trademark?
A trademark is a distinctive graphic representation used by you or your company to distinguish yourself from other similar businesses.
Logos, slogans, signs, even certain colour schemes can be trademarked.
What are the various types of trademarks?
In Ireland there are mainly 5 different types of trademarks your business can acquire, often it is suggested you apply for more than one depending on the protection you require. These trademarks are:
- The Ordinary/Standard Trademark – This is used as the majority of trademarks in Ireland, it can consist of a set of words, a slogan, or a device.
- The Collection Mark – This is a form of a trademark that consists of a mark that distinguishes the goods or services of the members of an association from those of others. If your good is part of an association of goods, this mark will show that.
- The Certification Mark – This is a mark that “certifies” the goods or services provided as possessing certain qualities, or that the goods or services are of particular standard or other characteristics.
- A Series of Trademarks – A series of trademarks is a number of marks which resemble each other in their important features, and differ only in minor features which do not substantially affect the identity of the mark.
- The Three Dimensional Mark – This is a mark used to protect the shape of an item, or an item’s packaging.
Why should I trademark my goods or services?
Registering a trademark makes it much easier to protect your product; it stops others from selling or distributing a similar product without your permission. It also prevents people from “piggybacking” on your success by marketing their similar product in the same way as yours.
If you do not get a trademark for your product or service, it is a much longer and more laborious process to protect yourself in the event that a dispute arises. If a dispute arises and you did not register your trademark, the often suggested pathway to solving the dispute is bringing a “passing off” action against the other party. This is often a lengthy and expensive option. “Passing off” claims are notoriously difficult to prove, meaning you could end up losing the case; if this were to happen, you could not only be liable for your own legal fees, but the legal fees of the other party. To avoid this it is vital to register your trademark as soon as you can.
Does my Irish trademark protect my product abroad?
No. This trademark does not protect your product abroad; however you can apply for a trademark to protect your product in EU countries by applying to the European Union Intellectual Property Office located in Alicante, Spain.
To protect your product outside the EU, it is necessary to make an application to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).