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Hong Kong Trademark Q&A: What a Trademark really is?

What is a trademark

What We Call Everyday

We are seeing different brand names everyday, in advertisements, products, and stores. We call these "names" marked on the products or stores as "brand", "logo", "shop name" etc., but It is rare to say "the product of this "trademark" is good". So, what do we actually mean when we say "trademark"? And more importantly, what exactly is a trademark?

Definition of a Trademark

According to the official definition provided by the Hong Kong Intellectual Property Department, a trademark is "a sign used to identify goods and services provided by merchants". A trademark can consist of words (for example names of people), designs (logos), letters, numbers, colors, sounds, shape of goods or their packaging etc., and any combination of the above signs.

Our Daily Definition: "Brand" vs "Logo" vs "Trademark"

In fact, when we usually refer to the name of a trademark on a daily basis, we usually are referring to the following meanings:

1) Company name: usually text-based, used to represent a product or service provider, such as Adidas, McDonald's, Hermès, Microsoft, Google etc..

2) Brand Name: It may or may not contain text, and is used to represent the name of a product, such as "Yeezy" as shoes of Adidas, "McNuggets" as chicken nuggets of McDonald's, "Birkin" as Hermès' handbags.

3) Logo: It may or may not contain text, but it usually refers to a graphic design, which also serves as the representation of a company or product.

It can be seen from the above that in fact, these names/logos recognized by the public are actually trademarks, and we are only using calling them in different names! Interestingly, by observation, it is usually when a brand owner wants to register a brand name, or when an owner encounters a legal or infringement dispute, then the name "trademark" is used. There is indeed no "logo law" or "brand law" in the legal context, only Trademark Law.

Question: Are Trademark and Copyright the same?

We often hear people saying "I want to register the copyright of my brand name". This actually shows the speaker mixed up the concepts of trademark and copyright.

Trademark and Copyright. They are indeed two different intellectual property rights. Generally speaking, their differences are as follows:

1) Trademarks are being used to represent providers of products and services (or logos, as people like to call it in that way); while copyright is not limited to this purpose, it is for works (text, music, videos, photos, etc.)

2) Trademarks and copyrights have different validity and durations, with the former usually has shorter validity

3) Trademarks can be registered in Hong Kong; copyrights do not need to be registered in Hong Kong (and indeed there is no official mechanism to get them registered)

4) It is relatively simple to prove the trademark holder, as a trademark certificate will be issued once a trademark is registered; copyright requires a bunch of evidence to prove that you are the original creator

Question: Are Trademark and Patent the same?

Sometimes people would also say "I want to register a patent for my brand". This also shows people mixed up trademarks and patents. It may be so because people use the word "patent" to describe "exclusive right" everyday, leading to the confusion.

Unlike trademarks, patents specifically refer to new inventions, new devices, new drugs/formulas, etc. that aim to solve problems. So patent is more unlike trademark than copyright is to trademark!

We hope this article would provide some help to our readers. So when it comes to logos/brands/brands/brands/trademarks/copyrights/patents in the future, you would already know the differences among them.

If you would like to know more about Intellectual Property Rights, just feel free to contact us through (Email) (Telephone/ Whatsapp) +852 9545 3177.


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