• Trademark FAQ

What to do when my trademark registration has been refused?


The examination of trademarks in Singapore is handled by Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) and will usually take between 8 to 12 months. However, during the examination, it is possible for a trademark application to get rejected or receive objections from the public.


Why would a trademark application get rejected?

There are several reasons for a trademark application to get rejected. One is the failure to meet the registration criteria set by the register. These requirements must be met during the submission of the application to determine whether the trademark can be officially recognized. A trademark may be rejected for the following reasons:

  • Trademark cannot be represented graphically
  • Trademark is incapable of distinguishing the goods and/or services from other traders
  • Trademark is not distinct
  • Trademark is just a description of the goods and/or services
  • Trademark is similar to an existing mark in the register

The applicant must also be able to complete the other requirements during the submission such as the following: declaration to use the trademark, clear graphical representation of the trademark, and the list of goods and/or services and their classification. Your application can be rejected if there is a missing requirement or incorrect information, but you will be given time to amend the application.


Classification of Goods and/or Services

Most applicants forget that the correct filing of the classification of goods and/or services is important for a trademark because you can only use the mark on the items listed in the application. If you have any trouble with the filing, there is a comprehensive list of classes based on the International Classification of Goods and Services (ICGS). IPOS also has a pre-approved list of descriptions of the goods and/or services for your reference.


Self-Search for Trademarks

Before submitting your application, you can avoid any conflicts during the examination if you do a thorough research of existing registered trademarks in the database. You can browse through the list in the Singapore Registry of Trade Marks just to be on the safe side. Not only will your trademark application get a rejection if it is similar to another trademark, but there is a possibility that you will also have to defend your trademark.

One example of such a conflict involved the Polo/Lauren Co LP versus US Polo Association in 2016. Polo/Lauren opposed the USPA application because the latter used a similar trademark for similar goods and/or services. The court, however, decided that there was no confusion on the part of the public. But delays like this can be bad for business especially if you are going up against a company that has distinguished itself in the public.

Other factors such as the following can also be grounds for opposition of the trademark:

  • Breach of copyright
  • Offensive trademark or trademark is against public policy
  • Trademark is a geographical indication
  • Propriety rights
  • Trademark represents the proprietor
  • Deceptive nature of a trademark
  • Trademark has a flag, state emblem or armorial bearings
  • Trademark looks generic

During the examination of the trademark, your trademark will be published in the Trade Marks Journal to allow for public scrutiny for 2 months. A party can file an opposition and you will have to send your counter-statement to resolve it. A hearing will also be set to decide whether your trademark can be registered or not. The opposition is obliged to provide evidence to support their claims. In turn, you will also be given an opportunity to support your application with evidence. If there is no opposition to the application, however, you will be granted the Certificate of Registration.