Q. I want to register a trademark, does it make a difference if the mark is in the lower or upper case? For example, I want to register the mark ‘Example Font’, would this be regarded as the same as ‘EXAMPLE FONT’?
Whether or not you choose to use the lower or upper case letters will make no difference as the mark will be regarded as the same. If another competitor attempts to register the same mark in the upper case and also with respect to the same class of goods or services, their application will be refused.
The test is whether consumers are likely to be confused between the marks. Your use of the lower vs upper case should not influence the likelihood of confusion analysis in any significant way. That said, most lawyers use the upper case to identify a trademark.
Q. At what stage can we go ahead and use the ® and ™ symbols?
Each time a business uses a mark, it is best to use a designation with it. The ® and ™ symbols are commonly used to mark trademarks. Businesses can use the ™ symbol in situations where they wish to claim a trademark. It is actually a good way to put competitors on notice as it lets them know that your business considers a mark to be your trademark. Using the ™ symbol does not guarantee that your business will be protected under the trademark laws in Nigeria.
The ® symbol on the other hand, cannot be used until after the Trademarks Registry in Nigeria issues the Certificate of Registration. Following the acceptance of your application, the Registry will need to publish the trademark in the Trademarks Journal and give any potential opponents two months to raise objection to the registration. If no objection is raised, an application for a Certificate of Registration should be filed and upon issuance you can go ahead and use the ® symbol.
Q. If you register a trademark with a particular font, is that the only font you can use?
Standard Character Marks or Word marks are typically used to register words, letters, numbers or any combination thereof. They provide the broadest protection as they imply that your business does not lay claim to any particular font style, size, color or design element. By doing so, a single word mark protects the mark regardless of how the words are displayed. However, most businesses register various designs in addition to the standard character for additional protection.
Q. What does the symbol SM mean?
The symbol SM is similar to ™ symbol. It serves as notice to competitors that your business considers a mark to be your service mark. Service marks fall between classes 35 – 45 in Nigeria. The mark covers a service mark, covering services, such as banking or legal services, rather than tangible goods. Like the ™ symbol, using the SM symbol does not guarantee that the owner’s mark will be protected under the trademark laws in Nigeria.