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An introduction to Trademarks in Ghana
Examines what a trademark is, the validity, classifications, requirements & timelines involved in registering a trademark in Ghana
Trademarks, Copyright and Patents are what is collectively referred to as Intellectual Property.
A trademark is text, image, sound (yes sound eg. Intel inside sound or the nokia start-up sound) or a combination of all three used in identifying and distinguishing a business’ products or services from another.
This should not be confused with copyright which are the exclusive legal rights given to the originator of a piece of artistic work such as music, film or artwork to prevent it from being illegally reproduced by any other party.
In Ghana, a trademark MUST be registered in order for the brand/mark to be protected unlike the “copyright” is automatically conferred upon the originator of a piece of artistic work by virtue of his/her creation of same without it first being registered. It is however advisable to register your copyright as it serves as a record of who the originator of the work is.
Ghana is party to the Nice Agreement and adheres to the Nice Classification which is an international classification system used to classify goods and services for the purposes of the registration of marks. As at the time of writing, we comply with the 11th Edition of the Nice Classification in which there are 45 different classes (ranging from Chemicals in the Class 1 to Legal Services in Class 45) in which one can register a trademark .
Trademark versus Service Mark
In other jurisdictions, marks which are used to distinguish one person's /company's /group's goods from another entity's goods are referred to as "Trademarks" and similar marks used to distinguish one entity's services from another are referred to as " Service Marks". In Ghana however there is no such distinction between a "Trademark" and a "Service Mark" , they are both referred to as Trademarks.
A collective mark is essentially a trademark used by a group of company’s/ businesses/associations that are not necessarily owned or controlled by the same group of people but rather to signify their membership to a collective or union (eg. Fair Trade mark). In Ghana you are required to submit the conditions of the Collective mark that essentially outlines the rules governing the use of said collective mark.
As at the time of this article it takes an average of 18-24 months from the time of a Trademark application for an applicant to be issued a Trademark Certificate (if application is not opposed). However after the trademark has been examined and published the applicant holds the same rights as he/she would if he had been issued the certificate.
A trademark is valid for 10 years (from the time of the application) and can be renewed for subsequent 10 year periods upon payment of renewal fees.
Removal for Non-Use
Where a Trademark or Collective Mark is not used for a period of 5 years , a third party may apply for that trademark to be removed from the register of trademarks, thereby allowing anybody to register that SAME or a similar trademark. Although where there is a reasonable explanation for the non-use of the trademark, the Registrar of Trademarks will not remove the mark.
Where the owner of a trademark is not ordinarily resident in Ghana, a person who wants to register a trademark in Ghana MUST do so with a legal practitioner resident and practicing in Ghana.
Article supplied by Swiftlaw