‘What’s in a name?’ Every business has a name and that name can be more easily identified and recalled if it is rendered in a particular way. For that reason those operating businesses often design and register a trademark. The process of registration in Hong Kong is relatively easy and straight forward and protects it against being copied or imitated by competitors.
What Is A Trademark?
The Trademarks Ordinance defines a trademark as any sign which is capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings and which is capable of being represented graphically. It may consist entirely or partly of words or indeed have no words.
Prerequisites Of Registration
It is essential that the trademark be distinctive. Signs that are judged exclusively to indicate matters such as the quality and intended purpose of the goods may not be registered. There are other restrictions such as the use of national flags and emblems or their designs. Further, if the trademark is merely the shape of the goods, if contrary to accepted principles of morality or likely to deceive the public then it may not be registered.
Trademarks are registered in respect of particular classes of goods or services and protection does not extend to those classes for which they are not registered. A trademark that is identical to an already registered trademark may not be registered in the same category of goods or services. A trademark that is similar to an already registered trademark may not be registered if it belongs to the same category of goods or services and is likely to cause confusion on the part of the public.
Decisions as to the registrability of trademarks are taken by the Registrar of Trademarks who must inform those applying of his decision in writing. Applicants are entitled to make representations in writing and they may amend an application to deal with any objection. Ultimately parties may apply to the Courts if they disagree with a decision made by the Registrar.
The registration process is usually completed within 6 months and sometimes as quicky as three months.