Some trade marks cannot be registered, or are harder to register, such as:
- a person’s surname, if it is common to use surnames in the relevant trade and that particular surname has been used to a large extent in that trade
- a sign that is descriptive of products or services, such as “modem” for Internet modems, “email” for computer software products, “cool fresh” or “good nature” for cosmetic and skincare products
- a sign that is devoid of distinctive character, such as “wonderful” for processed nuts and “A New Way” for telecommunications services
- a trade mark that is confusingly similar to a registered trade mark
In choosing a trade mark, it is desirable to search
- registered trade marks through the Online Search System of the Intellectual Property Department of the Government of the Hong Kong SAR,
- company names through the Cyber Search Centre or Company Search Mobile Service of the Companies Registry of the Government of the Hong Kong SAR and
- domain names,
to ensure that the trade mark that you select is not the same as or likely to be confused with another person’s registered trade mark, business name, company name, or domain name.
This is particularly important if you intend to implement a branding strategy where your trade mark will also be used as a business name, company name or domain name.
A Search and Preliminary Advice Service is offered by the Intellectual Property Department of the Government of the Hong Kong SAR which can provide guidance on whether the trade mark selected is likely to be accepted for registration.