A trade mark is any word, phrase or design used by a person to distinguish their wares and services from those of their competitors. It is a form of intellectual property that can be assigned or sold like any other piece of intellectual property.
However, for a person using a trade mark to have a remedy against others that use it, it must meet certain criteria:
- The person using it must be able to prove they used it before any competitor used it. The easiest way to prove this is through registration, although unregistered trade marks are still entitled to protection.
- The trade mark must be distinctive, not merely something of a descriptive nature
- It must be continually used and consistently protected. If a trade mark falls out of use, or it is used so widely even without the consent of the original trade mark holder, it is no longer protected.