As much as we’d like for each brand to be distinct and truly unique, there will always be cases of similar sounding ones. Such was the case of the EtonHouse International Group in Singapore, which won a trademark infringement suit against China’s EtonKids Educational Group in September of 2017. The legal tussle has stretched over two years. The concluding verdict? EtonHouse was granted SGD 163, 680 in statutory damages.
Cases like these are the reason why you should consider your trademark vigilantly. Before you register trademark, you must also be open to the idea that it may be similar with a pre-existing one especially if it’s made up of commonly used words. To save yourself from the trouble of coming up with a new brand name or paying pricey legal fines, deliberate upon your trademark well.
Any registered mark/trademark is bound to be protected by intellectual property rights. If your business was first to have the name registered, you can file lawsuit cases against other companies whose names appear or sound similar with yours. Let it be known that a trademark is as good as a brand indicator – therefore no two businesses must have similar brands to avoid confusion.
Having your trademark registered is one foolproof way to protect your brand as well. Consumers would get confused if two businesses possess similar-sounding names even if it is registered with trademark registration Singapore hence it is only fitting to avoid cases like these where you might lose sales and profit.
Key Factors to Consider
1. Strength of the Mark
When it comes to the trademark law, the term mark refers to any business trademark – may it be the name, design, or symbol which is officially affiliated with the business and any of its services. Marks can range from weakest to the strongest: such as generic, descriptive, suggestive, and arbitrary. The more unique and distinct the mark, the more it is protected under the Singapore trademark law.
For example, the term Aspirin is considered a generic mark hence it receives little to almost no protection. It has been popularly used around the globe to refer to various types of pain relief medications.
However, the mark Apple for computers is considerably arbitrary. There is no direct connection between the name and the product, so the mark receives more protection.
2. Commonality of the Mark
In trademark registration, it is also important to consider the commonality of the mark. If your brand name is composed of commonly used words, expect to be possibly subjected to copyright infringement cases more often than going with distinct and unique marks. In short, a trademark is ‘weakened’ if its words are broadly used by other businesses.
In health and wellnesses clinics, you often see the words “health” and “fit” as a part of their business name. Should you wish to go with “Fitspiration” for your gym business, you are likely to be challenged in court. Remember that there are similar trade names across the city-state in all businesses – thus it is encouraged to be as unique with your mark as possible.
3. Actual Confusion / Similarity of Mark
There is an issue to be resolved when people mistake your business for something else, or vice versa. If your gym business “Fitspiration” is something they associate with a store that sells healthy, organic food or protein whey powders – then something must not be right. Perhaps an existing grocery store is named almost similarly (e.g. “Fitness Inspiration”), a matter which might bring trademark registration troubles along the way.
To avoid being in this situation, do your research before you register trademark. Familiarize all the related names of stores and businesses which are similar with your field. Do your best to come up with a mark that truly stands out among the rest.
4. Advertising Media
Before you register TM for your business, consider the advertising and marketing platforms you are to use. If a similar-sounding business promotes on the same platform as yours, people are bound to get confused at some point. Imagine hearing two separate ads on the radio about “Fitspiration” and “Fitness Inspiration” – only to assume either these two business endeavors are related to each other or is the same.
Also, compare the marketing template, publicity materials, website design of similar-sounding businesses with yours. This might just help you win a trademark lawsuit case in the future, should you ever find yourself in one.
5. Can Last Forever
Allot time in deciding about your trademark name because once you get it registered, it can remain with you forever if properly used and documented. Should you go with a trendy phrase for your mark, chances are the trend might die out over time, and thus might render future customers confused. Choose a mark that is classy so you will never worry about it going out of style.
Go with a name you prefer the most so you won’t have any regrets in the long run. Keep in mind that trademark registration can last in perpetuity, so you might as well choose the best brand/mark for yourself. That way, you won’t blame your younger self for coming up with such a childish, naïve name for a brand mark.
Your trademark can take you places – and we mean that in the literal sense as well. Choose a good trademark and take it with you to the path of glory and success. Go with the name you will be proud of representing, even after 10 to 20 years’ time. Also remember that having a good brand reputation can shed some recognition on your business efforts. The more your business grows and flourishes, the more value will be attached to your trademark.