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What is a Trade Mark?
A Trade Mark is a sign that is capable of indicating the origin of goods or services. Once registered, it confers on the owner the exclusive right to use that sign in a specific jurisdiction in respect of specific goods or services. Thus, as Unilever PLC have a registered Irish Trade Mark for the word MAGNUM ® in respect of ice cream products, it is illegal for any unauthorised party to use a mark identical, or confusingly similar, to MAGNUM ® on ice cream products in the Republic of Ireland.
What can you Trade Mark?
In Ireland, a Trade Mark must be capable of being represented graphically and distinguishing the goods or services. It must also not be descriptive or laudatory. Most Registered Trade Marks tend to be words, phrases, or logos. Examples of well known registered Trade Marks are TAYTO ®, KIT-KAT ®, and PERSIL ®.
Is there such a thing as a worldwide Trade Mark?
Yes, an International Registration covering many countries may be obtained through the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). Once registered, the International Registration becomes a bundle of national Trade Marks and any objections in relation to the individual National Registrations are handled at a national level.
A single Trade Mark Registration covering the whole of the European Community, known as a Community Trade Mark or CTM, can also be obtained through the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM). Otherwise, Trade Mark protection is predominantly obtained at a national level.
Can I search for Trade Marks?
Yes, searches can be carried out at the Irish Patents Office, the UK Patents Office, and the OHIM in Alicante. Links to these Trade Mark searching facilities are provided here. Patents Office - IPO - OAMI
Design protection may be obtained to protect the look or aesthetic of an object. An example of a well known Design would be the shape of the MAGNUM ice cream which is protected throughout the world by Unilever as a registered design. In Ireland, protection of design may be obtained through Registered Design, or Unregistered Design Right.