What is a Trade Mark?

A trade mark is a sign often referred to as a “brand” or “logo” and is used to distinguish the goods or services of one trader from those of other traders in the marketplace. Trade marks include words, names, symbols and logos. Anything that distinctly identifies your company can be a trade mark.

The main purpose of a trade mark is to enable consumers to identify a product of a particular trader so as to distinguish it from the same or similar products provided by competitors. Trade marks come to represent not only actual goods and services, but the reputation of the producer. As such, they are considered valuable intellectual property.

There are three basic types of trade marks:

1.   Basic Trade Mark

A basic trade mark is a sign that distinguish the goods or services of a specific company or individual.

2.   Certification Trade Mark

A certification trade mark is a sign certifying that the goods or services for which it is used meet a defined standard. They are owned by one person but licensed to others which meet the defined standard.

3.   Collective Trade Mark

A collective mark is a sign used in the course of trade by members of an association to distinguish those goods produced or services provided by persons who are not members of the association.

You are not required to register your trade mark but it is highly recommended. Registration of your trade mark gives you the exclusive right to use the mark in New Zealand for 10 years, renewable every 10 years thereafter.

Once a trade mark is registered, the ® symbol may be legally used against the trade mark. A ™ symbol indicates that a trader is using a sign as a trade mark but does not indicate whether the sign is registered.