There are many trademark horror stories about companies who suffer expensive litigation because they failed to register their trademarks or didn’t register in the right trademark classifications. Many of us probably figure that registering a business is similar with trademarking because you have to register a unique business name. Wrong! For starters, registering your business’s name does not protect your business name in the market — it doesn’t matter what form of business it is (sole proprietorship, limited liability, or limited by stocks).
So, how do you protect your business’s name?
Registering a Business Name
When you are out there applying to set up an LLC or a corporation in Taiwan, you need to provide the government with your proposed business name in Chinese. The government will then check whether this name is available or not, meaning, whether it is being used by another business. Your business name must be unique and can’t be used by any other business. If you want to make sure if your business name is indeed available for registration, check out this link: Taiwan business registration database.
Business registration is one step in starting a business and having a name under which to sell your products or services. In Taiwan, you can do it online via MyEgov. If you want an in-depth guide on business registration, starting a business in Taiwan website is very good reference.
Filing for Trademark Protection
Having a registered business name does not give you the protection to use that name as your brand or product name to sell in the market.
Let’s say your company name is “ABC International Trade Company Limited”. No one else can now start a company with that exact name. But assuming no one else has registered “ABC” as a trademark, anyone can use that term to identify themselves and their products to their customers, anyone can make a product called “ABC”.
The only way to make sure that you are the only one who can put “ABC” on a product, you need to protect your identity through trademark registration. This could even be done before you register your business in the name of the founder or founders.
A trademark is an identifying mark, symbol, sound, design or word (or combination of all) which identifies a certain business to their customers and differentiates it from the competitors. Trademarks are granted at the national level by the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office. If you own a trademark right, you are legally protected from it being plagiarized for anyone else’s commercial benefits without your permission.
Several of you might wonder why we need to protect our business identity through trademark registration. You might think that that money could be spent somewhere else, and why bother when there is nothing wrong? The answer is that while registering a trademark is relatively inexpensive, the costs of a trademark infringement conflict is often very expensive.
Imagine having just set up a website, printed business cards and envelopes and having sent out your first batch of products to retailers just to have to destroy it all because someone else come and says they own that trademark right? It could kill your business or at the very least seriously delay your development.
If you decide to apply for a trademark after reading this article, remember to research your proposed trademark to make sure that no other business has registered anything even similar to yours. You can search through the trademark database. We even published an extensive guide here: Registering your Taiwan trademark.
Start early on checking and registering your trademark so you won’t miss out on being the first to register your trademarks.
MUSA Trademark is your trademark agent in Taiwan. We help local and international companies apply for and register their trademark in Taiwan and China. Contact us today for a free evaluation.