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The Mighty Three Intellectual Property: Trademarks

Aktualisiert: 15. Juni 2023

In the second part of his thought leadership series on intellectual property, Ludwig Lindermayer, a patent and trademark attorney at PAUSTIAN & PARTNER, discusses the basics of trademarks and how startups can protect their brand.

Trademarks are a more striking aspect of intellectual property than patents, but it's important to remember that this article is not intended as legal advice. Simply put, a trademark is any sign or symbol that makes people think of your company when they see it. This could be a specific "swoosh" or design of a sports company, the triangular shape of a chocolate bar, the form of a glass bottle, or even the red soles on high heels.

However, a trademark must be represented on the register to enable competent authorities and the public to determine the clear and precise subject matter of the protection afforded to its proprietor. This means it must be represented clearly and precisely in the register. For instance, a small trademark for golf balls (the smell of freshly cut grass) could not be entered into the record because it could not be represented clearly and precisely. The possibilities of what can be registered vary between jurisdictions.


Trademark disputes are easier to resolve than patent disputes. Comparing pictures is more accessible than understanding technical descriptions. As a result, judges can often resolve trademark disputes more efficiently, making trademark procedures less of a hassle.

There are several options for registering a trademark, such as national registration with the office of the country or region, regional registration, like a European trademark EUTM, or international registration. Each option has different rules and regulations, and the number of classes in which you register your brand usually influences the costs of the application. For example, the Nice Classification structure lists 45 categories covering every imaginable good and service. It helps classify the goods and services you want your trademark protected.


To register a trademark, you need a sign and a list of goods and services for which you want your brand protected. However, during the registration process, you must clear two hurdles: your signature must not be descriptive of the goods and services you want to protect, and there must not be an older trademark that could be confused with yours. Case law is abundant worldwide, but startups can do a fair part of the preparative work for a trademark application.


Here are some reasons why trademarks are pretty cool:

  • Trademarks are relatively inexpensive. For instance, a European Trademark (EUTM) application can cost as little as 850 EUR basic office fees for a trademark application in one class. Moreover, if your application is successful, you'll get protection for the entire EU with just one application.

  • You can get trademarks quickly. Unlike patents that take years to get approval, trademarks can be registered in just a few months.

  • Trademark disputes are easier to resolve than patent disputes. Comparing pictures is more accessible than understanding technical descriptions. As a result, judges can often resolve trademark disputes more efficiently, making trademark procedures less of a hassle.

  • The toolbox of trademarks is extensive. So be creative and get broad protection. You can get protection for all sorts of crazy ideas, including words, logos, colours, the places you put your name, the shape of your product or packaging, sounds, and more.

  • Trademarks can last forever. With proper care, your brand can keep its edge longer.


Protecting your trademarks will ensure that your brand retains its edge and stays recognisable to the public.

However, trademarks also have their challenges. For instance, your signature must not be descriptive of the goods and services you want to protect, and there must not be an older trademark that could be confused with yours. Nevertheless, trademarks remain a powerful tool for startups looking to protect their brand.


In conclusion, trademarks are an essential component of IP protection for startups. While they are relatively easy and inexpensive to obtain, it is crucial to understand the specific requirements for your jurisdiction and ensure that your sign is not descriptive of the goods and services you want to protect. Additionally, protecting your trademarks will ensure that your brand retains its edge and stays recognisable to the public.


In the next part of this series, we will analyse pure creativity and how to protect it: IP.

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