Trademarks are symbols, words, or images that connect a service or product to the companies they originate from. Their concept has been around for hundreds of years as they were used early on as a means to recognise the origin or authenticity of different products. In modern days symbols, such as R, TM, and SM, signify the legal protection given to a specific logo, product, brand or service name, following a Trademark registration through a regional intellectual property office.
1_Trademarking is a concept as old as commerce.
Early forms of trademarks were commonly present throughout ancient Egypt and China as far back as 600 BCE.
Here are some historical milestone in the history of trademark:
The bakers Marking Law of 1226: The British Parliament first legislation concerning trademarks, which required every baker to put a unique mark on the breads they produced.
Britain 1618: The first legal case to mention the use of a trademark as a badge of origin (for cloth) – though the case itself concerned the sale of counterfeit jewels.
France, June 1857: The first comprehensive trademark system was established by the Law on Marks of Manufacture and Trade (Loi sur les Marques de Fabrique et de Commerce).
London in England, 1876: The Trademarks Registration Office opened and the first registered trademark was that of the beer company Bass & Co. Applied for on January 1st and still valid.
France, 1883: Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property was agreed. An international convention relating to trademark and other industrial property rights under the national legislation of its 11 member countries. As from 2017, the Convention has 177 members. This international agreement was the first major step taken to help creators ensure that their intellectual works were protected in other countries.
2_Trademarks matter to SMEs
A European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) report suggests SMES with intellectual property (IP) rights have a 32% higher revenue per employee. After a trademark registration, 54% report a positive impact, through an increase of reputation, turnover and access to new markets. Any type of business with competitors can benefit from owning a trademark and therefore should apply for trademark registration.
3_Trademarks are important for creative businesses.
A combination of Copyrights and Trademarks will offer adequate protection for businesses in the Creative sectors. Copyrights will protect their creative works and efforts, and a Trademark registration will protect the brand.
From your favourite music or movie studio name and or logo; to you favourite band or artist. Trademarks are everywhere and are often the subject of epic legal battles.
4_Trademarks help differentiate artists works
Artists should consider a trademark registration to distinguish their works from others.
When Pablo Picasso died he left a multi billion dollar empire of some 45,000 works, all complicated by countless authentications, rights, and licensing deals to his heirs. There were 1,885 paintings, 1,228 sculptures, 7,089 drawings, 30,000 prints, 150 sketchbooks, and 3,222 ceramic works.
An Artist without a trademark can quickly run into troubles...
In 2014, Banksy (via an entity called Pest Control Office Limited) successfully registered an EU trademark (EUTM) depicting his infamous artwork, which had been first sprayed on a wall in Jerusalem in 2005. The trademark registration was subsequently challenged by a UK card company, Full Colour Black, in 2019, on the grounds that the artist never intended to use it as a trademark and was merely trying to circumvent copyright law (which he could not rely on due to his desire to remain anonymous and potential issues regarding the legality of street art/graffiti). This prompted the artist to create ‘Gross Domestic Product’, a pop-up store in Croydon, south London, which featured versions of Banksy’s artwork for sale. However, the artist admitted that the shop was only opened "for the sole purpose of fulfilling trademark categories” and was not therefore genuine trade mark use aimed at creating or maintaining a market share.
5_The oldest trademarks are beers marks
Contenders for the oldest continuously used trademark in the world are LOWENBRAU, which claims use since 1383 and STELLA ARTOIS, which claims use since 1366.
Other marks such as WIELICKA and WEINHENSTEPHANER initially started as appelation of origin in Germany in 1241 and 1040.
At SIP Management we set out to make efficient intellectual property protection and management affordable and accessible to all. We help our members easily register their business and products trademarks. Join our growing community of artists, creatives and entrepreneurs from across the globe, all aiming to fully leverage their intellectual property to build more valuable businesses and brands.