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Trade Marks & Protecting your Name

What is a Trade Mark ?

A trade mark may be described as the manner by which a business distinguishes itself from that of its competitors and others.  A trade mark may be achieved by identifying not only a business or trading name but also by identifying the goods, products and or services that the business in question trades in.

What Can be Trademarked ?

A trademark may be a collection of words, numbers, designs, logos, letters, distinctive packaging, shape of goods and or packaging and or any sign capable of being represented graphically which would distinguish one undertaking from another.

Examples of some very famous trademarks would be Coca Cola, Disneyland, Google, Microsoft etc.

Trade Mark Disputes

Identifying an protecting your brand, trade mark etc can be a very complex and costly matter. Disputes frequently arise amongst those seeking to enforce their rights to a particular Mark.  Some notable trade mark disputes have arisen amongst the giants if international business. As an example Apple Inc. a company not averse to seeking trade mark infringement redress, was involved in litigation for over 20 years with a record company, called Apple Corp.  It just so happens that the record company in question was the Beatles record company.  Apple Inc disputed the right of the record company with regard to the use of the term "Apple." The matter was eventually settled in 2007 with Apple Inc. purchasing all trademarks relating to "Apple," and licensing back some of the marks to Apple Corp the record company.

Those of you that have enjoyed Subway's "footlong" sandwich may be interested and or even surprised to know that they made an attempt to register a trademark relating to "Footlong" but the application was rejected presumably based on the word "footlong being considered to be a descriptive word as opposed to a significantly distinguishing word.  Nevertheless Subway have recently sought to take action against a number of catering outlets who use the term " footlong" when describing the wares in their eateries.  The outcome of these actions a have yet to be determined but further illustrates the complexity of trade-marking and the lengths that some entities will go to to protect their rights or perceived rights !

International Trade Marks - Other Considerations

Establishing the right to a Trade mark has significant advantages but the right must be established to include all territories within which that trade mark may be used. This can be a very costly procedure because the Trade Mark may have to be registered globally in order to effectively protect the brand or mark. As an example, back in 2002 an enterprising chap in Japan by the name of Taro Yamamoto, sought to register the domain tokyodisneyresort.com You may recall that Disney were at that that time in the initial stages of setting up their Disneyland Tokyo operation. Needless to say once Disney Enterprises Inc. became aware of the existence of the domain they sought to have the registration of the domain and brought an action to have the domain transferred to them. Whilst such a domain dispute is not a trademark dispute Disney Enterprises Inc. proved that they were the owners of numerous marks incorporating the DISNEY mark and consequently won their case to have the domain transferred to them.

We have no idea what happened to Taro Yamamoto !.

 

 

 

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