By Candace Westby
Trade marks — also referred to as brands, or logos — uniquely identi-fy products and services. They may consist of words, images, numbers, letters, personal names, slogans, the packaging of goods, or any combination of these. In some countries, a trade mark can even be a sound, a motion, colour, smell or taste!
Persons and businesses use trade marks to differentiate their goods and services from their competi-tors’. According to the World In-tellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), trade marks date back to ancient times, when artisans would place their signatures, or “marks” on their creative works. Trade marks therefore serve as an indication of source; they allow consumers to make purchasing decisions based on specific quali-ties or characteristics that they identify with brands they prefer.
The trade mark owner has exclu-sive rights to use the mark. These rights include the right to license the mark to others, such as in the case of a franchise; and to stop others from using the mark with-out the owner’s permission.
In Cayman, trade mark rights can be legally enforced in court under the Trade Mark Law, or under the common law tort of passing off.
Under the Cayman Islands’ Trade Mark Law, which came into effect on 1 August, you can protect a trade mark by registering it with CIIPO (the Cayman Islands Intel-lectual Property Office).
When you do, keep in mind that trade mark rights are territorial. This means the exclusive rights you obtain from registering a mark only apply in the country in which you’ve registered the mark.
You should therefore register your mark in all countries in which you plan to use your mark.
If you successfully register your trade mark, you can use the ® symbol next to your mark.
You may also have seen the ™ symbol. This means the owner is using the mark as a trade mark, but it does not mean the mark has been registered under the Trade Marks Law.
Trade marks, once registered, are protected for 10 years from the date of filing, and they may be re-newed every ten years thereafter.
Here are the five reasons to regis-ter your trade mark with CIIPO:
• You can take legal action against anyone who uses your brand without your permis-sion.
• It legally reinforces your own-ership.
• It gives you exclusive rights to use your trade mark.
• You can use the ® or ™ symbol next to your brand.
• You can sell or license your brand.
Trade marks are a great way of legally protecting the identity of your products and services. So get creating, Cayman!
CIIPO is a unit under General Registry