A trademark can be used as a tool to assert and protect one of the key assets of your business – your brand – which is why you will want to protect it properly. A trademark is the legal protection enjoyed by a brand. Your trademark displays the origin of your products or services to customers and is a symbol of what distinguishes you from your competitors. Legally speaking, trademark protection can be offered to anything capable of being represented graphically. Traditional trademarks are words, including names, logotypes, numbers, letters or a combination of letters and numbers. In addition, unconventional marks such as designs, colors, shapes and sounds can in most jurisdictions be protected as trademarks. The key is that the trademark is capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one company from those of other companies.
Trademark registration is possible to obtain in three ways: 1) national registration, 2) EU registration and 3) international registration.
1) A national trademark registration is only valid in the relevant country, and applications are filed with the local registration agency. In Sweden, this is the Swedish Patent and Registration Office (Sw. Patent- och Registreringsverket, “PRV”). As a national registration only grants the trademark national protection, the exclusivity offered by a Swedish trademark registration is limited to Sweden.
2) An EU registration (a Community trademark, or CTM, registration) is made with the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (“OHIM”) located in Alicante, Spain. As a CTM, the trademark is protected in all 28 countries of the EU through one single registration.
3) The international trademark system is administrated by the World Intellectual Property organization (“WIPO”) seated in Geneva, Switzerland. In order to apply for an international registration, you are first required to have a national or EU trademark application or registration for the relevant trademark. The jurisdictions where you want to receive protection for your trademark shall then be designated in your international registration application. Currently, 92 jurisdictions have signed up to the international trademark system (through the Madrid protocol) and an international registration can grant protection in any of those, in accordance with the application.
For further information, please contact David Leffler.