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Maintain Your Trademark Through Proper Use

A trademark registration is meant to be valid indefinitely; however this validity has to be maintained through proper use of the trademark.

How can the exclusive rights to a trademark be lost?  We will discuss the three most common ways in which trademark rights are lost:

  • Abandonment

You lose them if you intentionally ‘abandon’ your trademark – ceasing to use it  without any intention to use it again.

  • Naked licensing

This term refers to the practice of licensing your trademark to other parties  without controlling the nature and quality of the licensee’s products or services that they are selling.  If the nature and quality of those products are inconsistent with the standards that your trademark is supposed to represent, you would be at the risk of losing your rights to this trademark.

  • Genericide

Another way of losing trademark rights is through genericide – as has happened to cellophane, thermos, aspirin and the elevator.  Many are surprised to know that these terms started off as trademarks, only to become common nouns in the English language!

How does genericide happen?   A trademark will gradually deteriorate into a  common term if the way it is used by the general public is not controlled.

Please refer to the table below for a guideline on the do’s and don’ts when using your trademark:

Do’s Examples
Always use the ‘TM’ or ® symbol ABCTM ,      ABC®
Always use bold, italic or capital letters to set your trademark apart from the rest of the surrounding words; or use quote and unquote marks ABC, ABC, ABC, ‘ABC’
Always use the Trademark in the adjective form Example 1: ‘Let me photocopy the document for you using our ABC® photocopier’Example 2: ‘Can I know the price for an ABC ® photocopier?’Example 3: This document has been scanned using the ABC® all-in-one printer and photocopier.
Don’ts Examples
Never use your trademark in the verb form ‘Let me ABC the document for you’This document has been ABC-ed.
Never use your trademark in the noun form ‘Can I know the price for an ABC?’