INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY FOR BUSINESSES: Trademarks (Part 1)

A trademark is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services produced or provided by one enterprise from those of other enterprises.

In Ghana, the Trademarks Act, 2004 (Act 664) as amended, defines a trademark a sign or combination of signs capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking from the goods or services of other undertakings including words, personal names, designs, letters, colours, numerals, shapes, holograms, sounds or a combination of any of these elements, or slogans, where the slogans are not long enough to be protected by copyright. Trademarks also includes collective marks and certification marks.
The law defines a good as anything which is a subject of trade, manufacture or merchandise.

What kinds of Trademarks can be registered?
The possibilities are almost limitless provided that basic distinctiveness is inherent in the mark. In general, any distinctive words, letters, numerals, drawings, pictures, shapes, colours, logotypes, labels or combinations used to distinguish goods or services may be considered a trademark. Some examples of trademarks are given below:
Personal names: WH Smith for stationary, McDonalds for restaurant, Morrison’s for supermarkets, Eno Serwaa for stick pads, Estee Lauder for perfumes.
Words: Google for internet services, Avon for cosmetics, Apple for computers, Volvo for cars
Letters: hp for computers, BMW for cars, GTV for broadcasting
Slogans: “everywhere you go”, “drop that yam” etc.

In many cases, trademarks are a combination of signs such as a word in combination with a logotype. An example is the registered mark of the WWF World Wide Fund for Nature.
With this brief write up, you now have a basic knowledge on Trademark. Using the aforementioned examples as a guide, kindly give some trademarks you are familiar with as you prepare to learn more about trademarks in the coming weeks. It is my hope that after our Trademark series, you would have learnt many things you never knew about trademark.

What are trademarks for?
Trademarks forms an intrinsic part of a company’s assets and gives the company’s product, its uniqueness, adding a great deal to the consumer’s perception of the product.
The main function of a trademark is to enable consumers to identify a product (whether a good or a service) of a particular company so as to distinguish it from other identical or similar products provided by competitors. Consumers who are satisfied with a given product are likely to buy or use the product again in the future. For this, they need to be able to distinguish easily between identical or similar products.

By enabling companies to differentiate themselves and their products from those of the competition, trademarks play a pivotal role in the branding and marketing strategies of companies, contributing to define the image and reputation of the company’s products in the eyes of consumers. The image and reputation of a company creates trust which is the basis for establishing a loyal clientele and enhancing a company’s goodwill. Consumers often develop an emotional attachment to certain trademarks, based on a set of desired qualities or features embodied in the products bearing such trademarks.

Trademarks also provide an incentive to companies to invest in maintaining or improving the quality of their products in order to ensure that products bearing the trademark have a positive reputation.