How to Register a Trademark in South Africa A trademark can either be a brand name, a slogan or a logo. It identifies the services or goods of one person and distinguishes it from the goods and services of another therefore serving the purpose of distinguishing a good or a service form one merchant to another. 

Trademark registration in South Africa is administered by The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC).  

You can only register a trademark if:  

  1. It does not consist exclusively of a sign which may serve, in trade, to designate the kind, quality, quantity, intended purpose, value, geographical origin or other characteristics of your goods or services, or the mode or time of their production or of the rendering of the services. 
  2. It does not represent a protected emblem like the national flag or a depiction of a national monument like the table mountain.  
  3. It is not offensive, deceptive or contrary to the law and morality. 
  4. It has not become customary in the field of trade. 
  5. There are no earlier conflicting rights. 

 Who may register a trademark in South Africa? 

  •  A trademark can be registered by anyone.  
  • You do not need to be a South African citizen to register a trademark, but you must be using the trademark in the Republic of South Africa and have a business address in South Africa
  • If you are represented by someone with an address in the Republic of South Africa, the representative must be an admitted attorney in South Africa. Trade Mark applicants cannot be represented by auditors, accountants, etc. 

Trademark registration process: 

For one to begin the Trademark registration process in South Africa, you need to first register as a customer and obtain a customer code which will be used as a reference while depositing funds into the CIPC bank for the entirety of the process.  

The prescribed fees should reflect in the CIPC customer account on or by the time of the application date. 

  1. Search Process 

One can either perform a special search or a quick e-search. 

Special search: 

A special search helps determine whether there have been any prior trademark rights that have been awarded and it costs R190 in respect of each class. 

 The CIPC office will provide a report within 15 working days after receipt of the request for the special search. 

A form TM2 that is duly completed and signed is used for the preliminary search, which is thereafter submitted to CIPC via post, courier services or placed in a drop box then placed outside the CIPC office at the dti Campus, 77 Meintjies Street, Sunnyside, Pretoria. 

E-search: 

One can conduct an e-search of the trademark register for themselves to determine if the mark is available to be used.  

The search provides only basic information and is free of charge. 

2. Application process 

When applying for a trademark, one has to file a separate trademark application for each international class of goods or services for which you would like to use your trademark. For example, if you manufacture and also sell cars, you have to lodge two trade mark applications: 

 One in class 12 for manufacturing of motor vehicles; and 

 One in class 35 for selling of the motor vehicle. 

When everything is in order with the application i.e. is compliant with the requirements and the fees has been paid and is reflected in your customer account, then the application will be given an official date and an official application date which will be used as reference 

3. Examination process 

The Trademarks Registry examines the application and checks the uniqueness of the mark and if it resembles another mark or symbol that is already in the registerIt takes about 9 to 12 months for the examination process.   

After examination, an official action is issued in which the Registry indicates whether it is prepared to accept and register the trademark and in what conditions. 

4. Advertisement Process 

Once the Registry is satisfied that a trademark can proceed to registration, it will issue notice of acceptance of the application. An advertisement will then be arranged in the Patent and Trademark Journal. 

At this stage, the application is open to opposition by interested parties for a period of three months. If a party believes that it has grounds for opposing, an extension of the opposition period is usually requested before a formal notice of opposition is filed.  

5. Registration Process 

Once the threat of opposition is resolved or withdrawn, the Certificate of Registration will be issued.  Alternatively, if there is no opposition, after three months have expired, the trademark will proceed to registration. 

 It takes between 30 and 36months before the Registration Certificate is received. 

On completion of the registration process, rights in the trademark start from the date of filing of the application and last for ten years which can then be renewed. 

Contact us today for more details on how to Register a Trademark in South Africa


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