What is a trade mark?

A trade mark can be a word, phrase, letter, number, sound, smell, shape, logo, picture, aspect of packaging or a combination of these. A trade mark can also protect your brand name.

A trade mark is used to distinguish the goods and services of one trader from those of another.

Generally speaking, the most common form of trade mark can be, and usually is, recognised as a brand name

There are many examples of combined elements making up well known trade marks. There are for instance, many types of bottles used to contain soft drinks, but only one with the distinctive ribbon device and design of Coca-Cola. Each element of a Coca-Cola bottle- the shape, red imprint and name-could be considered a trademark of the Coca-Cola company.

This same philosophy holds true with distinctive slogans or brand names. A photocopying machine is not a trademark, but 'Xerox' is. Any product bearing the name Xerox implies the same level of quality as the original product. Sometimes a trademark becomes so popular that it replaces the generic description of the product. Consumers shop for Cotton Buds instead of cotton swabs, for instance, even though the name ‘Cotton Bud’ is a registered trademark of the Johnson and Johnson company. Other trademarks which have become universal include Jacuzzi, Band-Aid and Esky

A trade mark, or ‘brand name’ is the evolution of the ancient custom of branding one's belongings. Whether this meant making one's mark on clothing, pottery, smith's works, or livestock, it was designed to make it obvious which person or family owned specific items. Today's brand name works basically the same way. It is used to distinguish one product, especially a competing product, from another. In other words, it is a mark used to show ownership. A brand name that has been around for some time, and is seen as reputable, will generally develop customer loyalty. Consumers will purchase the brand name product because they trust the company. They know the quality is good, and they won't have trouble obtaining a refund or replacement if for some reason the product is damaged or otherwise unacceptable

This means that a trade mark can be a valuable marketing tool. An appropriate trade mark should be an integral part of the marketing strategy for your goods and services. The public will identify a certain quality and image with goods and services bearing your trade mark. It can become an important means of maintaining goodwill with your clients and improving your bottom-line!