INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY FOR BUSINESSES: Trademark (Part 3)

WHY your company should protect its trademark

While most businesses realize the importance of using trademarks to differentiate their products from those of their competitors, not all realize the importance of protecting them through registration. Without registration, your investments in marketing a product may become wasteful as rival companies may be able to use the same or confusingly similar trademark for identical or similar products. If a competitor adopts a similar or identical trademark, customers could be misled into buying the competitor’s products thinking it is your company’s product.

This would not only decrease your company’s profits and confuse your customers, but may also damage the reputation and image of your company, particularly if the rival product is inferior quality.
Given the value of trademarks and the importance that a trademark may have in determining the success of a product in the marketplace it is critical to make sure that it is registered in the relevant market(s).

In addition, a registered trademark may be licensed to other companies, thus providing an additional source of revenue for your company, or may be the basis for a agreement.

On occasions, a registered trademark with a good reputation among consumers may also be used to obtain funding from financing institutions, which are increasingly aware of the importance of brands for business success (see WIPO, IP for Business, series 1, 2003).

Registration, under the Trademarks Act, 2004 (Act 664) as amended gives your company the exclusive right to use the mark to identify your products and to authorize another to use in return for some consideration. It prevents others from marketing identical or similar products under the same or a confusingly similar mark without the consent of the registered owner. The law makes it an offence for any person to infringe on the rights of a registered owner of a trademark by knowingly using a trademark for goods or services without the consent of the registered owner. The offence is punishable by a fine of not less than 2500 penalty units and not more than seven thousand penalty units (currently a penalty unit is Ghc12), or to a term of imprisonment not less than 5 years and not more than fifteen years or both.