These FAQ’s pertain to IP in general and South Africa in particular.

Seeking IP information on a specific country in Africa or the Caribbean? Find out more here.

Trade Marks in Africa

Protect your uniqueness.

Trade marks are extremely valuable assets, deserving effective and comprehensive protection. 

Our Trade Marks Department works with global and local businesses from large corporations to small and medium companies with a common goal of protecting their brands across Africa and the Caribbean.

We cover trade mark prosecution at all stages, including searching/clearance advice, the filing of applications, compliance with official actions, publication, the issuing of registration certificates, the recordal of changes in owners’ names and addresses, assignments, licenses, deeds of security and hypothecation, and renewal.

Trade mark registration in Africa takes place within a complex legal environment, necessitating close attention to procedural and formal requirements, which may vary from country to country.

We also handle trade mark oppositions in Africa and all forms of trade mark enforcement, including trade mark infringement, passing off, ambush marketing, unlawful competition, company name objections, domain name disputes, and consumer- and advertising-related matters. 

This department is supported by our IP Audits & Due Diligence team, our Domain Names team, and our Consumer & Advertising team. Our Litigation and Anti-Counterfeiting teams are available for enforcement globally and across Africa.

ARIPO trade marks and OAPI trade marks are very effective means for obtaining extensive protection in Africa.

Read our Trade Mark introduction – a complete guide to get more insights.

How Can We Help?
For more information on filing requirements, use our interactive Africa map and browse our FAQs

FAQ's

What exactly is meant by “Trade Mark”?

Trade marks are words or other marks, like logos, slogans or brand names that are used to distinguish the goods or services of the trade mark owner from those of other manufacturers and suppliers. When you register a trade mark, you have the exclusive right to use that trade mark in connection with the goods or services for which it is registered, This prevents the unauthorised use of your trade mark – or marks that are confusingly similar by other traders.

What can be registered as a trade mark?

Generally, any sign that is capable of being represented graphically can be registered as a trade mark, which extends to device names, signatures, words, letters, numerals, shapes, configurations, patterns, ornamentations, colours or containers for goods – or any combination of these.

A mark can be a symbol, a person’s name or image, a corporate logo, an invented word or an ordinary word, or a distinctive container for goods. It may be applied to the surface of goods or incorporated into their shape or structure. It may be a musical jingle, or a combination of colours in a particular format. As strange as it may seem, even sounds and smells can be marks.

So you can register trade marks for services?

Yes, trade marks can be registered for services such as engineering, computer programming, advertising, banking and insurance, leasing, entertainment, hotels, restaurants and beauty salons, for instance. In these cases, service marks distinguish a service as opposed to a product. Certification marks can also be used to certify certain characteristics of goods.

What is the key requirement for registering a trade mark?

A fundamental requirement for registration of a trade mark is that it is “capable of distinguishing”; in other words, it must differentiate the goods or services of the trade mark owner from those of others.

Once a mark has been selected, a trade mark search should be conducted to ensure that the mark is available for registration and that there will be no infringement of a registered mark.

What should I look out for when selecting a trade mark for my business and/or goods?

Choose something that can be registered. (If necessary, you can ask your marketing team to work with your internal trade mark experts or the relevant external trade mark practitioners, to ensure selection of a mark that is registrable.)

Be aware, however, that the more appropriate the word or device is for describing the goods or services, the less appropriate it will be for distinguishing those goods or services from those of others. Remember, too, that if it is even possible to obtain registration for a semi-descriptive word, it may be difficult to protect that word against claims by others that they are entitled to use almost identical descriptive terms.

These difficulties are not necessarily avoided by using foreign or misspelled versions of ordinary descriptive terms, and geographical names or surnames as trade marks can also be difficult to protect.

Once a mark has been selected, conduct a trade mark search to ascertain that it is available for registration and that there will be no infringement of an already registered mark.

Meet the team

Spoor and Fisher Team - Herman Blignaut

Herman Blignaut

Partner

Spoor and Fisher Team - Jennifer Colantoni

Jennifer Colantoni

Director

Spoor and Fisher Team - Matthew Costard

Matthew Costard

Director

Spoor and Fisher Team - John Foster

John Foster

Partner

Spoor and Fisher Team - Stephen Goldberg

Stephen Goldberg

Partner

Spoor and Fisher Team - Juli Hopf

Juli Hopf

Partner

Spoor and Fisher Team - Mohamed Khader

Mohamed Khader

Partner

Spoor and Fisher Team - Reinard Krüger

Reinard Krüger

Partner

Spoor and Fisher Team - Duncan Maguire

Duncan Maguire

Director

Spoor and Fisher Team - Jean McIvor

Jean McIvor

Partner

Spoor and Fisher Team - Wayne Meiring

Wayne Meiring

Managing Director

Spoor and Fisher Team - Hugh Melamdowitz

Hugh Melamdowitz

Partner

Spoor and Fisher Team - Louise Myburgh

Louise Myburgh

Partner

Spoor and Fisher Team - Charl Potgieter

Charl Potgieter

Partner

Spoor and Fisher Team - Shamin Raghunandan

Shamin Raghunandan

Partner

Spoor and Fisher Team - Paul Ramara

Paul Ramara

Partner

Spoor and Fisher Team - Megan Reimers

Megan Reimers

Partner

Spoor and Fisher Team - Tshepo Shabangu

Tshepo Shabangu

Partner

Spoor and Fisher Team - Jeremy Speres

Jeremy Speres

Partner

Spoor and Fisher Team - Linda Thilivhali

Linda Thilivhali

Partner

Spoor and Fisher Team - Marco van der Merwe

Marco van der Merwe

Partner

Spoor and Fisher Team - Carl van Rooyen

Carl van Rooyen

Partner

Spoor and Fisher Team - Eben van Wyk

Eben van Wyk

Partner

Spoor and Fisher Team - Charles Webster

Charles Webster

Partner

Spoor and Fisher Team - Jarred West

Jarred West

Partner

Spoor and Fisher Team - Kay Rickelman

Kay Rickelman

Foreign Counsel

Spoor and Fisher Team - Chris Walters

Chris Walters

Director

Spoor and Fisher Team - Zama Buthelezi

Zama Buthelezi

Partner

Spoor and Fisher Team - Mellissa Esterhuizen

Mellissa Esterhuizen

Partner

Spoor and Fisher Team - Karien Postma

Karien Postma

Senior Associate

Spoor and Fisher Team - Natalie Slabbert

Natalie Slabbert

Senior Associate

Spoor and Fisher Team - Jeanine Coetzer

Jeanine Coetzer

Associate

Spoor and Fisher Team - Pieter Delport

Pieter Delport

Associate

Spoor and Fisher Team - Merlene Engelbrecht

Merlene Engelbrecht

Associate

Spoor and Fisher Team - Farrel Frank

Farrel Frank

Associate

Spoor and Fisher Team - Jan-Gerhard Oosthuysen

Jan-Gerhard Oosthuysen

Associate

Spoor and Fisher Team - Amani Patel

Amani Patel

Associate

Spoor and Fisher Team - Megan Dinnie

Megan Dinnie

Associate

Spoor and Fisher Team - Chris  Smith

Chris Smith

Associate

Spoor and Fisher Team - Emily Hill

Emily Hill

Associate

Spoor and Fisher Team - Nola Pontes

Nola Pontes

Associate

Spoor and Fisher Team - Thembokuhle Danca

Thembokuhle Danca

Candidate Attorney

Spoor and Fisher Team - Kagiso Magabe

Kagiso Magabe

Candidate Attorney

Spoor and Fisher Team - Karabo Mangope

Karabo Mangope

Candidate Attorney

Spoor and Fisher Team - Tebogo Motloutsi

Tebogo Motloutsi

Candidate Attorney

Spoor and Fisher Team - Dr Owen Dean

Dr Owen Dean

Consultant

Spoor and Fisher Team - Kaajal Nagindas

Kaajal Nagindas

Senior Associate

Spoor and Fisher Team - Russell Norton

Russell Norton

Consultant

Spoor and Fisher Team - Louis van Wyk

Louis van Wyk

Consultant

Spoor and Fisher Team - Julie Scott

Julie Scott

Trade Mark Formalities

Spoor and Fisher Team - Elliot Moignard

Elliot Moignard

Trade Mark Paralegal

Spoor and Fisher Team - Neil Robinson

Neil Robinson

Trade Mark Paralegal

Spoor and Fisher Team - Chantal Haydon

Chantal Haydon

Senior Paralegal

Spoor and Fisher Team - Doreen Wilson

Doreen Wilson

Senior Paralegal

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