Imagine the horrors of another company opening up a business with your company name?
All the hard work, goodwill and customers you have managed to cultivate will be shared with an imitator. That could be a hard pill to swallow, but in reality, you don't have to swallow it at all if you know the difference between your Company name and getting a Trademark.
As an entrepreneur, you should think of protecting your business name to avoid losing all you have worked so hard for. Whatever kind of business you are doing, you want to make sure your business name is adequately protected. Still don't get the difference between the two?
We'll break it down.
Registering your Company Name with the CAC
When you apply to register your business in Nigeria, the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) will check to make sure that your proposed business is not already being used by another company in the country, among other checks.
The availability check usually takes between 1-5 days. If your proposed business name is already in use by another company then you need to come up with other names and do another check. It's a rinse and repeat process until you get a name approval from the CAC. Here are a few tips on choosing a name, so you can avoid a lengthy name reservation process. Once your business name has been accepted, you can then proceed with the registration or incorporation process after which you would be issued a certificate which has your name.
Filing for Trademark
A Business or Company name is what it is. A name without additional protection.
However, your trademark is the bodyguard to your business. It does one basic thing, protect your brand by giving you exclusive right to use it to identify your goods or services.
Or you could authorize and give permission to others in return for payment. You can learn more about that here.
The trademark protection has a period of validity but if you're serious about protecting your trademark, there is a plan for renewing indefinitely, typically involves paying a law firm to be on trademark watch and notifying you when a renewal is needed.
The courts enforce trademark protection which is the best really if you are looking to block trademark infringement.
Before you are granted your trademark certificate, it has to be advertised in the Nigerian Trademark Journal. The point of this is to open it to opposition for a period of two months from the publication date.
If you receive no objections within the specified period or if the objections made during the period are not valid, you will be issued with a certificate of Registration by a registrar.
When issued, the Registration Certificate will reflect the date of initial filing as the date of registration (i.e. date of filing acknowledgment).
Your protection against Fake/Inferior Products
At the end of it all, the bottom line is your trademark is there to reward your business with recognition and financial profit. The profit that can and will be threatened by unfair competitors such as producers of fake products who use similar signs to produce and sell inferior products and services.
Getting a trademark gives you a fair chance at producing and marketing your goods and services in as fair a condition as possible which will of course open up doors to international trade. An added plus is a registered trademark gives you priority of use for a domain name
For some businesses, it might be down to what you need to do and what is prudent. Registering your business is non-negotiable. It's the only way to formalize your business even though it doesn't give you full rights to that name. You can register your business either as a Business Name or Limited Liability Company by yourself here.
Here's what you need to keep in mind about registering your trademark:
- A Trademark gives you the legal right to stop others from trading with your name.
- When you register a Trademark you get exclusive use of that trade mark throughout Nigeria
- If you need exclusive use of your Business Name, you should register it as a trademark.
- Registering your trademark is fairly easy and you can do it yourself too. Find out how