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What is a trade mark?


A trade mark is a sign, brand or logo which you can use to distinguish (set apart) your goods and services from other traders so that consumers can identify you. When designing your trade mark, treat it as a potential ‘badge of origin’ for your goods and services – how critical is it to you that consumers think of your name first for a certain good or service over other traders, and what do you want them to think of?


A trade mark can be any combination of words, colours, logos, shapes, sounds or smells – the more unique the mark, the easier it will be to register, and the more memorable.


A registered trade mark protects your chosen goods and services (classes) for ten years in New Zealand.


In business terms, a trade mark is an intangible asset which attaches to the goodwill of your brand name and represents your reputation in the marketplace.


What Are 'Classes' ?


‘Classes’ refer to exactly that – the classification of your goods and services when applying for a trade mark. To successfully protect your goods and services, you must attach them to your trade mark application – otherwise nothing gets protected.


There are 45 classes to potentially attach your trade mark to – 34 “goods” classes and 10 “service” classes, which together comprise the Nice Classification Schedule (“niece”, not “nice”). 


For example, if your trade mark is to protect apparel and clothing, then you will need to add GOODS class 25 to your application. If you also provide a retail service for those goods, then you must further add SERVICE class 35 to protect those activities. If you fail to register the service part, then another person may be able to register a similar mark in the provision of retail, even though you have protection for the actual clothing and apparel.