When you have a business, using a trademark to differentiate your products or services from that of others is critical to build a strong brand image. It is also very important to obtain protection for your trademark with the registry of interest, such as the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) for Singapore, to obtain monopoly over your trademark. Once your trademark registration is approved, you will have exclusive rights to use the trademark and to prevent other parties from using it without your prior authorization within the jurisdiction.
How to register your trademark in Singapore
Here are the steps to take in order to obtain trademark registration in Singapore.
1- Determining the relevant class(es) and the goods and/or services
For the purpose of trademark registration, Singapore currently adopts the 11th edition of the NICE Classification of Goods and Service, where the goods and services are categorized into 45 classes (34 classes of goods and 11 classes of services). Your application should be filed in the trademark class(es) which is/are relevant to your products and/or services.
2- Determining the mark to be registered
In order to optimize protection, you should determine which mark you intend to seek protection for: a wordmark, a logo, a combined mark, in black and white, in colour, a series of marks, etc.
3- Conducting a pre-filing availability search
Although it is not compulsory, it is strongly recommended to conduct a trademark search to ensure eligibility of your trademark for registration in the particular class(es). The search will reveal if, by the date it is performed, there are any other similar or identical prior trademarks belonging to third parties which may hamper your trademark registration in Singapore.
4- Filing the application form
Upon completion, the trademark application form (TM4) should be filed with IPOS. The form will contain the following details:
– The name and address of the applicant
– A clear representation of the trademark you intend to register
– The list of goods and/or services you wish to register your trademark for
– The details of the priority claim (if your application is filed with priority claim).
5- Dealing with possible objections and/or oppositions
Once the form is filed and all formalities are met, your trademark application will be examined by the duty officer to ensure it is eligible for registration. If it is not, the examiner will issue an examination report. A four-month deadline will be granted to submit a response, failing which your application will be treated as withdrawn. If the application is accepted, it will then be published in the trademark journal and third parties will be able to oppose the same during a two-month publication period.
If your trademark application is not opposed within the publication period or if the outcome of the opposition proceeding is in your favour, your trademark will proceed to registration and the registry will issue a certificate of registration. Your trademark will then be considered as registered for a period of ten years from the initial filing date. The registration can last indefinitely, subject to renewal every ten years.
Can your trademark be registered?
The Singapore Trade Mark Act defines a trademark as “any sign capable of being represented graphically and which is capable of distinguishing goods or services dealt with or provided in the course of trade by a person from goods or services so dealt with or provided by any other person”.
The sign can consist of different elements such as letters, words, numerals, drawings, names, labels, aspects of packing, shapes, colours, sounds. However, not every sign can be registered as a trademark must :
– be distinctive
– not be descriptive of the goods or services claimed in your trademark application
– not be customary in the current language or established practices of the trade
– not be confusingly similar to an existing registered trademark belonging to a third party.