Q. What is a Trade Mark?
A. A sign or symbol which is capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one trader from those of other traders. A trade mark can be a word or combination of words, letters, numerals, logos or the shape of a product.
Q. Must a Trade Mark be registered?
A. No. The use of a trade mark on or in connection with goods or services is sufficient to obtain common law rights. However, registration is advisable.
Q. Why register a Trade Mark?
A. Registration of a trade mark gives the owner of the mark a monopoly. That is, the owner has the exclusive right to use the registered mark on the goods and/or services for which it is registered. Also, the owner of a registered mark can sue for infringement of his registration if someone else uses the same or a similar mark on the same or similar goods or services for which the mark is registered. For instance, the owners of the registered marks “TRIBE” and “FANTASY” have the exclusive right to use their registered marks. They also have legal recourse should someone else use their marks without their permission.
Trade marks also play a significant role with respect to branding. Various registered trade marks in the Carnival Industry have over the years attained a well-known reputation with respect to mas in Trinidad and Tobago. For example, mas bands are associated with designing some of the most unique costumes and providing revellers with an exceptional Carnival experience.
Q. Who can apply for a Trade Mark?
A. Any person or corporation who is the owner of a mark. Bandleaders as well as soca artistes can apply for a trade mark. For example, “TRIBE” and “FANTASY” are registered trade marks. “MACHEL MONTANO HD” and SHURWAYNE WINCHESTER’S image are also registered trade marks.
Q. What are the criteria for the registration of a Trade Mark?
A. The mark must be distinctive. That is, it must not describe the goods or services applied for or be a generic term in the channel of trade.
Q. How long is a Trade Mark valid for?
A. A Trade Mark is valid for ten years from the filing date of the application and may be renewed for successive ten year periods upon the filing of a renewal application form and the payment of the prescribed fee.
Q. Does a Trade Mark that is registered in Trinidad and Tobago have automatic protection internationally?
A. No. A trade mark registered in Trinidad and Tobago is only valid in Trinidad and Tobago.
Q. Is the Intellectual Property Office the only office in Trinidad and Tobago where I can apply for my Trade Mark?
A. Yes. The intellectual Property Office is the assigned with the responsibility for the registration of trade marks in Trinidad and Tobago.
Q. Can I apply for a Trade Mark myself or do I have to retain an Attorney?
A. You may apply for the trade mark yourself provided that you possess an address within Trinidad and Tobago for the service of all documents from the Office. Applicants within Trinidad and Tobago can apply for the trade mark themselves or through an agent. However, applicants located outside of Trinidad and Tobago are required to submit an address for service in Trinidad and Tobago with their application and therefore, will need a local agent.