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What You Need to Know About Trademarks: 4 FAQs Answered

Can you go a day without seeing a trademark symbol anywhere? It’s a more challenging task than one may think. After all, almost every notable brand for every product and service has one of these symbols attached to its name or logo. But what are they exactly, and what is their significance? Knowing such information is crucial, especially if you plan on starting your own business. Here’s what you need to know about trademarks.

What is a trademark?

A trademark identifies a brand and differentiates it from competitors. The most common trademarks take the form of a word, phrase, symbol, or combination of the three. However, sounds and even smells can also be trademarked. A trademark gives your brand the exclusive right to use it while preventing others (especially your competitors) from using it. They would also not be allowed to use anything similar. For example, a competitor of McDonald’s would not be allowed to use a version of their logo in a different color.

What is its importance?

Trademarks prevent competitor brands from using your brand’s name or anything similar. This protection keeps you safe from competitors imitating your brand to get your consumer base or doing something slanderous to ruin your brand’s reputation.

It also helps consumers remember your brand, distinguishing it from the rest of the crowd. Keeping your image unique, memorable, and recognizable can help expand your consumer base and increase the opportunity for repeat customers. 

Where can you file a trademark application?

You can file a trademark application with the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL). Firstly, ISOPHL’s website links to the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Global Brand Database. This website lets you check if another company has already trademarked your intended brand name. You’ll also be able to browse a particular trademark’s serial number, registration number, mark type, expiration date, and more.

You can proceed once you’ve confirmed that your intended brand name is safe to be trademarked. You can fill up your application online through the eTMFile Page

Regarding the Eat Bulaga Trademark Issue

Who has the right over a trademark, the creator or the first to file the trademark?

The ongoing dispute regarding Eat Bulaga between Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto, and Joey De Leon (TVJ) vs. TAPE Inc. has raised an interesting issue regarding trademarks. Is TVJ in the right to pursue getting Eat Bulaga’s trademark because they conceptualized and created the show? Or are they powerless against it because they didn’t submit the application before TAPE did?

IPOPHL has what is called the FIRST-TO-FILE rule. This rule means that the party that was the first to file for registration for a trademark will get the rights to it above anyone else who filed for the same. Note that this is only if the first party was able to get all of their requirements together and filed their registration correctly. This means that since TAPE has been registering the trademark for Eat Bulaga for the past 40 or so years, they should be able to continue doing so, despite not being the show’s original creators.

However, there are also ways for other parties to oppose a registration for a trademark. Section 151 of the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines states that another party can file a petition to cancel a trademark registration if they believe that the registration will damage them in any way.

This ended up being TVJ’s course of action. They filed a petition to the Bureau of Legal Affairs to cancel TAPE’s trademark of Eat Bulaga. IPOPHL has asked TAPE to respond before the 6th of July. If TAPE fails to answer TVJ, the agency will have to decide on the case. If TAPE does respond, an Adjudication Officer will handle the cases for a proper decision and resolution.

Iit’s best to consult a lawyer first before filing a trademark application for your brand,. That way, you’ll be able to ensure that your application is complete and properly filled out for a smoother process. Our lawyers at Sadsad Tamesis Legal and Accountancy Firm will be able to guide you through every step of your application process.

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