What is a Trademark?
A Trademark is basically as a mark, logo, or brand, that is visible and acts as an invoice in regards to a specific product. Any trademark, for any product, essentially lets consumers know that it is a specific product that is different and/or unique from other similar kinds of products. A trademark can be any picture, icon, symbol, word(s) or letter(s), including specific font type. This can be either a single image or word(s) or a combination of both. An example of a trademark that is solely an icon is Nike brand sports apparel. For a trademark that is only words, think of Sony brand electronics, and an example of a trademark that incorporates both an icon/image and words would be Nestle food products.
Importance of a Trademark
Trademarks are important in that they allow consumers to easily identify the manufacturer of any given product. The trademark ensures that product being purchased has the qualities and standards a consumer associates with the manufacturer. To put it another, how many people actually know how to manufacture a television? Not very many. So, how would someone with no knowledge of how a television is produced, be able to make a decision about the quality of one? By the trademark. Since manufacturers cannot be present at every shopping mall or retail outlet on the planet to assure customers about the quality and standards of their products, a trademark can serve as a “quality control representative” for the company anywhere, and anytime.
Why Register a Trademark?
Like most things in the world of business, unless it is registered with some commercial authority a trademark is not legally protected. This means other companies can use the unregistered trademark for their products, or even use it to abuse and/or harm the business that originated the trademark, but had not yet registered it as the company’s trademark and property. Registering the trademark you want for your business provides full legal protection against product fraud as well as providing your company with public visibility which consumers can identify.
Where to Register a Trademark?
The intended owner of a trademark can apply to register the trademark at the Registration Application Service Group, located on the 3rd floor at the Department of Intellectual Property, inside the Ministry of Commerce, or at any Provincial Department of Business Development. Applications for trademark registration can be done through mail or on-line at www.ipthailand.go.th (Please make sure to look over and become familiar with the DIP website before beginning the on-line application process).
The Filing Process
Before submitting a trademark registration application, the applicant will be required to determine the similarity of their intended trademark to that of existing trademarks or those which are pending registration approval. Any trademark submitted for registration cannot too closely resemble any other trademarks, otherwise the application will be rejected. Remember that a trademark is meant to signify uniqueness for a company, and the easiest way to determine if your trademark doesn’t look like another one is to check the Department of Intellectual Property website (www.ipthailand.go.th). A fee of 100 THB (excluding bank charges) is all that is needed to start looking through the existing database of registered trademarks and those pending registration. Once you are sure your trademark is unique, the full application process can be started:
1. Application Form Kor. 01 – download and print this from the Department of Intellectual Property website. Attach the necessary documentation (trademark design and a company profile) along with the form which will be submitted to the official, and pay the application fee of 500 THB per item.
2. The official from the DIP will check the application of registration, documentation, and fees, to ensure that everything is accurate and complete. Once the official is satisfied with all the documents submitted, they will issue a Registration Request Number.
3. The official will provide a receipt that coincides to the registration request number. The applicant must keep this receipt until the Registrar Office has made the decision to register the trademark. This is a lengthy process; the earliest time-frame for registration approval is 1 year, and at the most 2 years. It is very important; DO NOT LOSE THE RECEIPT.
In Thailand, a registered trademark is protected for 10 years from the date of filing, and can be renewed every 10 years. The renewal application must be submitted 90 days before the expiration date of the previous registration. Any trademark which has been previously registered will easily be renewed. However, failure to reapply will result is forfeit of the trademark. One last note regarding trademarks in Thailand is, that a trademark which is registered in Thailand is protected ONLY in Thailand.