The use of these symbols has not been standardised. For instance, their use is obligatory in some countries including the United States, but not in the Benelux. Still, the use of the ® symbol can help to prevent trademark infringements as it clearly refers to a particular form of protection.
Their use is also subject to restrictions. The use of an ®, for instance, could be regarded as misleading if the trademark has not been registered.
Do you have any questions about the use of these symbols?
The trademark register is a publicly accessible database. Unfortunately, this means it is also open to mala fide businesses which may use it to make misleading offers for copycat registers. Don´t fall for their scam!
When you file your trademark, many companies will be looking over your shoulder. These companies will send you letters claiming to be an official trademark agency. Then, instead of charging you the standard taxes, they may charge you for inclusion in a worthless database. Unfortunately, there are quite a few businesses that operate in this way and new ones keep popping up. It has proven impossible to combat their trading practises. What you and your financial department should remember, however, is simple – Knijff pays all standard taxes on your behalf. You should never receive invoices directly from third parties concerning any of your trademarks! If you are in doubt, contact us and we will look into it.
There are also companies pretending to be regular trademark agencies and sending trademark proprietors a renewal notification. They will renew your registration, but for a fee that is much higher than charged by a regular agency. Again, please remember that Knijff will inform you if you need to take action regarding your registration. Please ignore and discard any other correspondence regarding the renewal of your registration, or contact us if you are in doubt.
Proprietors are regularly approached by mala fide businesses about the registration of domain names. For instance, they may contact you stating that a third party claims your trademark as a domain name. Again – beware. One of the primary aims of such a company is to sell you Chinese domain names for a considerable sum of money.
Click here for a list of rogue companies to beware of. Please remember that the list is not exhaustive.
Do you doubt the authenticity of an offer you received?
A trademark registration doubles as protection of your trademark name or logo, and an exclusive right to its use. But there are restrictions. Firstly, a trademark registration is valid for ten years. The trademark’s proprietor must use the trademark within five years after registration. Only then can the proprietor rely on the trademark rights.
Not every use is suitable for this purpose. For one, “symbolic” use is not sufficient. Instead, a trademark’s use must be aimed at obtaining or retaining a market share, where the circumstances (the sector, or the products in question) play a role in assessing whether or not a trademark has been used in a legally valid manner.
The obligation to use applies to all trademark proprietors. It will play a role if a proprietor is involved in a dispute and the other party asks for proof of use. To be prepared for situations like these, we advise you to retain all invoices, brochures, advertisements etc. We know from experience that it may be difficult to produce proof of use for previous years in disputes where deadlines are tight.
Do you want to know if you are meeting your user obligation?