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How to Stop Competitors or Anyone from Using My Brand

If you haven’t registered your trademark for your business, now would be the best time to do so. For aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners only dipping their toes in the industry, intellectual property is perhaps their best (if not only) asset to protect against competitors from using the same name.

Types of Intellectual Property

The good news is that protecting your intellectual property is now much easier in Singapore. There are many different types of intellectual property that can be recognized and registered, and you can use these options to protect your property. They are:

  1. Patents

Properties that are technical in nature are best protected by a patent, and these extend to new pharmaceuticals, appliances, gadgets, or even newly synthesized and/or developed materials. However, you should keep in mind that patents are more concerned with the technicalities instead of the end result.

The downside of applying for a patent is that you will need blueprints and specification for it. The protection offered by the patent lasts for 20 years after issuance, and after this time the blueprints will be released for use by the general public.

  1. Registered Designs

Registered designs are popular in Singapore because they are used to protect the outward appearance of a particular product, regardless of how the product itself works. For example, a new phone’s features, such as processor specifications and camera lens, could be patented, but the outward appearance is what is protected by this registered design.

Compared to patents, registered designs provide a longer-lasting protection provided that more than fifty copies are intended to be produced for sale, which makes type of registration ideal for mass-produced goods.

  1. Copyright

Artistic works, such as literary, musical, visual, and performative, fall under copyright. Under the Trade Marks Act of 1998 in Singapore, copyright extends to “useful” products that could not otherwise be protected by the former types of registration.

Copyright actually protects a particular work for a long time. For literary, dramatic, and musical works, copyright may span for up to 70 years from the year end of an author’s death. For cable programs and broadcasting, this time span is 50 years.

  1. Trade Secret

Confidential information and technical know-how can be classified as “trade secrets” in Singapore in accordance to goodwill and common law. However, neither statutory legislation nor registration procedures can support this kind of intellectual property.

To preserve this, Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA’s) are generally recommended, as well as good practices. One such practice is limiting the number of people who come into contact with this kind of information.

  1. Trademark

Brand names, logos, characters, or even phrases used in storytelling or marketing can be protected by trademark. Trademarks can essentially protect your property as long as you want, provided that the registration is renewed every ten years and that you continue to use this property in line with your business.

Trademark Registration: Simplified

Applying for a trademark has never been easier in Singapore with the Trade Marks Act of 1998. The process now essentially boils down to these steps:

  1. Application for Trademark Registration

Your trademark application must include the following:

  • Your name and address
  • A clear graphical representation of your trademark
  • A complete list of goods and services in relation to the product and/or service you wish to trademark; and
  • Declaration of intent of use.

Be sure to submit and pay the application fees for trademarking.

  1. Examination

Your application will then be examined to check if the mark is registrable. If it is acceptable, it will be published in the Trade Marks Journal. However, if it’s objectionable, you will receive an examination report containing the grounds for refusal.

You will be required to provide necessary information or amend your application within four months. If you don’t respond within this deadline, your application will be treated as “withdrawn”.

  1. Publication

If application is approved, it will be published in the Trade Marks Journal for scrutiny. During this time, competitors or owners of prior existing intellectual properties can file for an objection, and you will receive an opposition notice in the event of one.

  1. Issuance of Certificate

If there is no objection two months after publication (or if the outcome of the opposition hearing is in your favor), you will be issued a certificate of registration by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS). The protection offered by this registration lasts ten years minimum, but can be renewed in perpetuity.