Trade Marks Overview

What is a Trademark?

A trademark is basically a sign that is used to distinguish the goods and services offered by one undertaking from those of another. The two main characteristics of a trademark are that it must be distinctive (it must by its very nature be able to distinguish goods and services) and it should not be deceptive (misleading). A trademark must also not be descriptive. It is descriptive if it describes the nature or identity of the goods or services for which it is used.

Therefore a trademark is a sign that individualizes the goods and services of a given enterprise and distinguishes them from the goods and services of its competitors. A trademark may consist of any word, symbol, design, slogan, logo, sound, smell, colour, label, name, signature, letter, numeral or any combination of them and should be capable of being represented graphically. A trademark can also be a three dimensional-consisting of packaging of goods itself. A trademark protects good whereas a service mark protects services.

What rights does a trademark registration confer?

The owner of trade mark has the right to stop other people from using the trade mark without his/her permission. A registered trademark can provide legal protection from imitators trying to profit from his/her businesses identity.

What is the duration of the term of trademark of a registered trademark?

The registration is for a period of Seven years (7) and upon expiry is renewed every ten (10) years.

What are the steps for registering a Trademark in Uganda?

Step 1: Request for Search: A person who intends to apply for the registration of a trademark shall carry out a search to ascertain whether the trademark exists in the register upon payment of a prescribed fee. Step 2: ‘Filing of Application by Applicant: A trademark application is then filed upon payment of application fees. The application should contain the mark proposed to be used, the 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 (TM NO. 1) to an agent (Advocate of High Court) will be required. Step 3: The application is then examined to determine if it is capable of distinguishing the goods or services from others and whether use of the trademark is likely to cause confusion. Step 4: ‘Publication of Application: If accepted, the application will be advertised in the Official Government Gazette for 60 days. Step 5: Certificate Of ‘Registration: If there is no opposition after the expiration of 60 days of the advertisement in the gazette, the Registrar shall upon payment of the prescribed fee by the applicant enter the trademark in the register and issue a certificate of Registration.