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-- JonathanMo - 14 Sep 2015


The purpose of trade mark law is slightly different to that of the other intellectual property protection regimes, such as copyright, patents and designs. Trade mark law is not intended primarily as an incentive to creativity or inventiveness, but instead to protect the interests of traders, as well as being intended to provide consumers with a level of information and protection when they buy a product. Thus trade marks can signify the origin of goods or services and may say something about their quality, as well as serving to advertise the product.

Trade marks are particularly valuable in a market where there are alternative, possibly identical, goods. The registration of a mark protects it by preventing others who produce goods or provide services of a similar type from using the mark as an easy way to market success for their own product.

Note that the common law action or tort of passing off serves much the same function as trade mark law; however, a registered mark is protected, as from the date of application for registration, without the necessity of proving reputation in the mark. It is thus easier to prove infringement if a mark is registered. Nevertheless, a company may have a legal remedy even if its trade name or mark is unregistered or unregistrable: see generally Re Waterford Glass Group Ltd (1987) 9 IPR 339.

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