Recently, quite a few business owners have approached our office, claiming that the great reputation they have gained in the business over years of investment and customer service has been robbed of them by competitors, or worse, that competitors distribute counterfeits or poor-quality products that are mistakenly identified as their products and damage the reputation they have accumulated.
We are all familiar with a huge variety of brands, behind these brands are companies and corporations (such as Coca-Cola, Nike, Rolex, etc.) that have invested for many years, financial capital, creative thought, customer service, created, nurtured and built a reputation with huge investments. And today the value of their products is enormous because they are a brand.
(Those who are not sure what the value of a brand is, who will look at the cost of Apple products over their competitors or see what an industry has developed around counterfeits of Rolex watches).
Establishing a business, one works hard on developing a reputation, relationships, providing the highest level of service. Suddenly after years of hard work, a competing business has come to him, who happens to have exact same name, or marks his products in the same manner, or they just look the same.
Nowadays, on the one hand there is free competition, there are a variety of marketing and distribution media, and it is difficult to distinguish the thin border that undergoes inspiration and copy.
But the most effective and smartest thing to do is prevent such situations in the first place, is simply acting legal to register a trademark!!
So what is a trademark?
What are the benefits of registering a trademark?
And what legal protection he gives?
A trademark can be any of the following: letters, digits, words, characters or other signals or the combination of these, in two or three dimensions.
A trademark is intended to link a product or service with the person providing that product or service, in such a way that the person who sees the mark immediately recognizes the merchant.
Therefore, most of the trademarks we register for our clients are the name of the business, which is actually a combination of letters, or the logo of the business, and a marketable mark can also be a slogan, a trademark, etc.
The purpose of a trademark is to enable potential customers to identify that the product originates from the same business whose name has been associated with the quality in that relevant field. So that customers will value the product as worth more because they will recognize the reputation, which the mark represents on the product, on the packaging or on the label of the product, and will prefer to purchase the product that is identified with the same quality and reputation over competing products.
An example of possible trademarks: a letter or letters such as the letter M for McDonald’s, a combination of letters or words such as the word Nike. The symbol can also be a logo that includes a uniquely designed word, font, shape, and can be a figure or illustration, such as a drawing of the cow in Elite chocolate, or the illustration of a house on the cottage packaging, or the Apple for apple. A trademark can also be a three-dimensional design, such as the shape of the Coca-Cola glass bottle.
Israel has joined an international arrangement (in the Madrid Protocol) Therefore, it is possible to file applications for registration of international trademarks, as well as to claim protection of a registered trademark in other countries, based on an Israeli trademark..
So what are the advantages of registering a trademark?
- A registered trademark in my opinion is one of the most effective legal tools for protecting, blocking and preventing competitors from “riding” in the name of the trademark owner and making use of the reputation he has accumulated through hard work.
- This prevents competitors from damaging the reputation of the mark holder by introducing similar products of poor quality.
- Unlike other legal tools, a trademark owner is not required to prove reputation in order to gain protection, the very fact of registration entitles him to absolute protection.
- The registered mark is protected indefinitely (the initial registration provides protection for 10 years, after which the mark can be renewed again and again every 14 years without limitation).
- And most importantly:
The right is a unique right, meaning that no one else is allowed to use the mark on products or services on which the mark is registered. Using a registered mark without permission from the owner of the mark constitutes a tort of infringement of a mark. In the event that such use is made, the owner of the mark will be entitled to receive remedies such as an injunction prohibiting the violator from making the infringing use of the mark. And moreover, to sue the violator for any damage, getting rich at his expense or damaging the reputation of the business owner in any amount proven. And even more than that, Israeli law allows you to sue a person who has infringed a registered trademark in the amount of up to NIS 100,000 without any need to prove damage!
- many ask whether it is possible to legally protect even an unregistered mark? The answer to this is yes, but this is a much smaller protection, and it will be given only in cases where the owner of the mark manages to prove ownership of the mark, proves the existence of reputation, and connection between the mark and the reputation.
This is in contrast to the owner of a registered mark, who, as stated, will easily receive an injunction, and will be able to sue for NIS 100,000 without the need to prove reputation and without the need to prove damage. It is enough that the mark is recorded in his name.
For more information, advice, and registration of a trademark in Israel or abroad, our firm’s commercial department is at your disposal.