Different types of marks which can be registered in Uganda

Different types of marks which can be registered in Uganda
  1. A Service mark. This is a trademark that is used for advertisement of services. For example a hotel can register its mark for its services. Businesses use service marks to identify their services and distinguish them from the services of their competitors.
  1. A Collective mark. This is a trademark that distinguishes the goods and services of members of an association from those of any other undertaking. Collective marks usually belong to a group or association of enterprise. Their use is reserved to the members of such group or association.
  1. Certification mark. This is a mark indicating that the goods or services in connection with which it is used are certified by the proprietor of the mark in respect of the origin, mode or manufacture of goods, quality and other characteristics. The certification mark may only be used in accordance with the defined standards.
  1. Defensive mark. This is a trademark applied for by a trademark owner of a well known trademark for goods and or services that are not intended to be used by that owner. The purpose of filing a defensive mark is to reduce the possibility of other traders using the trademark for unrelated goods or services because the use of the trademark by a third party may cause confusion in the market place. For example the owners of Sumsung trademark which is widely known for electronics may register the same mark for other goods or services which may be plastics, beverages among others in order to prevent others from using the mark.
  1. An Associated mark. This is a trademark that is identical to another trademark which is registered or is the subject of an application for registration in the name of the same person in respect of similar goods.

Trademark registration procedure in Uganda

Trademark registration procedure in Uganda
  • Conduct a Search. A person who intends to apply for the registration of a trademark carries out a search in the trademarks registry to ascertain whether the trademark exists in the register and if not, whether it is suitable, that is, it is not offensive.
  • Advice by the Registrar. A person may if he or she wishes obtain advice from the registrar as to whether the proposed trademark appears to the registrar to be inherently adapted to distinguish or capable of distinguishing goods or services of the proposed undertaking from those of other undertakings. The registrar shall then advice accordingly.
  • Filing of Application for trademark registration. The application is filed upon payment of application fees. The application should contain the mark proposed to be used, the class of goods or services, the name, address and the signature of applicant. If the applicant is a foreign company, a power of attorney or form of authorization to an advocate of the High Court of Uganda will be sufficient.
  • Examination of application. The registrar will then determine the trademark is registrable and whether it conflicts with prior existing registrations or applications for trademark registrations.
  • Publication of Application. If the application is accepted by the registrar, the application will be advertised in the official government gazette for 60 days.
  • Certificate of registration. If there is no opposition after the expiration of sixty days of the advertisement, the Registrar shall upon payment of the necessary registration fees by the applicant enter in the trademark register and issue certificate of registration of the trademark
Fees payable for trademark registration
The fees payable depends on whether the trademark is a local or foreign trademark.
The other determining factor is whether the applicant intends to use an attorney in the process of trademark registration or will follow up the trademark registration process without the help of an attorney. The amount payable in professional fees depends on the attorney engaged in the registration process.

Opposition of trademark registration
There are instances when the trademark which is intended to be registered conflicts with an already registered trademark. The law allows such a person to oppose the registration of a trademark that he or she is of the opinion that it conflicts with their trademark.

Procedure for opposition of trademark registration

  1. Filing notice of opposition. The opposing party files a notice of opposition and statement of grounds with the registrar of trademarks within sixty days from the date of publication of the trademark application. The applicant is then sent a copy of the opposition documents for a response.
  2. Counterstatement filed by applicant. The applicant files a counter statement within thirty days. The counter statement is then sent to the applicant for reply if any and further evidence.
  3. Hearing of the opposition and decision. The opposition is then set down for hearing and a decision is made by the registrar. Any party aggrieved by the decision of the registrar has a right through his or her advocate to appeal to the High Court of Uganda.

      Uganda Trademark search – Why you need the study

      Uganda Trademark search – Why you need the study

      During trademark registration process in Uganda, objections may arise for several causes: similarity with a previous trademark (graphic or phonetic), similarity with a notorious famous, trademark too generic, etc. Trademark Comprehensive Study will help you identify potential obstacles so you can properly evaluate your chances of registration.
      What trademark search should cover

      Trademark Comprehensive Study should include the following sections:

      a) Class Identification: Trademarks are registered in classes; the search report should define the classes for your trademark according the description that you provide the trademark attorney.

      b) Trademark Search: Based on defined Classes, trademark attorney should perform an in depth search of existing registered trademarks, identifying the ones that have graphic/phonetic similarities.


      c) Analysis and Recommendation: Based on the search results, a trademark attorney should offer overall recommendations regarding the trademark registration probabilities.
      Before filing your trademark in Uganda it is important that you evaluate possible obstacles that may arise during registration process. Trademark search will not only list similar trademarks (graphic/phonetic) found in the official Uganda Trademark Database that may conflict with yours, but also give you an Attorney’s opinion about registration possibilities. This trademark search report is optional but highly recommended.

      DANGERS OF USING UNREGISTERED TRADEMARKS AND BENEFITS OF REGISTRATION

      DANGERS OF USING UNREGISTERED TRADEMARKS AND BENEFITS OF REGISTRATION

      What is a trademark?. Different authorities have given the meaning of a trademark. The Trademarks Act 2010 of Uganda defines a trademark to mean: a sign or mark or combination of signs or marks capable of being represented graphically and capable

      of distinguishing goods or services of one undertaking from those of another undertaking.

      For every successful and time tested corporate brand (trademark), that everyone wants to associate with, behind the scenes, a lot of effort and resources have been sunk into intricate trademark development and aggressive protection. Company brands and trademarks are amongst a company’s valuable assets. A study done by the UK’s IP office reveals that an estimated 6% of most company investments are spent in company brand protection.

      Branding starts and centers around your use of distinctive images, symbols, colors and styles, and caricatures, which most appropriately separate and preposition your goods, or services as unique from others on the same market, giving both a protection to your customers and also acquiring brand image and build up brand loyalty amongst your consumers.

      Dangers of using unregistered trademarks

      Until a name or logo is registered as a trademark, you cannot be certain that it belongs to you. If another person or business registers the mark first, you may find yourself in the highly inconvenient and very costly position of becoming embroiled in litigation and potentially having to withdraw your products, redesign your packaging and marketing literature, and pay damages or an account of profits to the registered trademark owner. Besides the quantifiable costs, you could also risk any goodwill that you may have established in the brand name over the years, over a product that you have painfully taken years to create, just because you didn’t take the extra step of registering it.

      Available research from world intellectual property organisation shows that over 80% of SMEs fail to register their trademarks. The majority think that it is not important to their business, with others citing lack of time, lack of understanding of the process of registration and costs associated with registration. By failing to register their trademarks, these businesses are not only damaging their brands and reputation, but also put their businesses at risk and in the end, loose out in the market battle.

      Benefits of trademark registration

      When you register your trademark, you ensure that you are in a position to prevent others from using or registering a similar one and that is the key to maintaining a strong brand.

      Section 34 of the Trademarks Act 2010 is to the effect that a person may not institute proceedings to prevent or to recover damages for an unregistered trademark. Section 35 saves the right of action against a person for passing off goods or services as the goods or services of another or the remedies in respect of the right of action.

      Protection under section 35 is only afforded to an unregistered trademark where a mark has acquired a substantial reputation. Even then, the hurdles to be over come in order to succeed in enforcing those unregistered rights against a third party, and the associated costs, are such that many businesses are inhibited from taking the legal action, and those that do, often fail.

      By registering its trademark, a business greatly improves its ability to prevent a third party from using or seeking to register conflicting marks, and to seek appropriate remedies, such as an injunction and or damages, in the case of an infringement.

      Trademark registrations are also valuable, transferable assets, which can be used as negotiating tools in business transactions and as security for financial transactions. Intellectual capital is recognised as the most important asset of many of the world’s largest and most powerful companies; it is the foundation for market dominance and continuing profitability of leading companies. It is often the key objective in mergers and acquisitions.

       

      What to consider while developing a good trademark

      Before coming up with the appropriate idea of a trademark, ask yourself, what your particular brand is and what word best expresses your brand. Also imagine what typography conveys the feeling of your brand. For example, what colors are consistent with your brand’s personality?. Your trademark can include a graphic, and if so, choose graphic expression which will best complement your brand. Finally, ask yourself the hard question on whether the trademark helps distinguish your brand from the competition?.

      It is important that every business, however small, urgently puts in place an effective and proactive trademark development and registration strategy to ensure that all its brands are properly protected, and that those it enters into contract with to use the those brands are not going to land them in trouble with other trademark owners.

      The use of effective trademark watching and monitoring procedures is also fundamental to the maintenance of a strong and enforceable trademark in the market; it helps to identify potential sources of conflict, including potential infringers, and prevents the dilution of one’s trademarks.

      Where to find help

      You should seek the advice of a trademark attorney for help in developing or implementing your trademark protection strategy. The trademark attorney should be in position to guide you through the trademark selection and registration process and advice on all aspects of the protection and enforcement of your trademarks.

      Angualia Daniel

      Managing Partner

      M/s Angualia Busiku & Co. Advocates

      www.lawyers-uganda.com

      Email: angualia@lawyers-uganda.com

      Mobile Telephone: +256774477656

      (Trademarks, company and investment law)