Registering a trademark is one of the big steps when forming a company. Just like getting a patent, it has some rules and other information that are necessary in order to complete the process.
Trademarks began to be registered in Brazil in 19th century, due to a case of plagiarism and legal dispute that occurred in 1873. There was a tobacco company from Bahia named Méuron & Cia. It was the first one in this sector and had a product called Rapé Area Preta. After some time, a company from Pernambuco, named Moreira & Cia, launched a product named Rapé Area Parda, clearly alluding to the product of Méuron & Cia. Due to this situation, and trying to avoid that cases like that happened again, in 1875 there were created Juntas Comerciais, where, among other things, registered trademarks.
Companies and Trademarks
There are a lot of things that should be considered when starting a business. One of them is its trademark; besides having a plan to take care of the image of your company, it is also important to invest in the trademark registration.
The concept of trademark, according to the legislation, is a “visually perceptible sign that identifies and distinguishes products and services”. Registering a trademark is simpler than getting a patent, and both of them must be done at INPI, the National Institute of Industrial Property. The trademark registered will be valid nationwide, and will be exclusive for the first person or company that registers it.
How to Register
The first thing that must be done is to check if your trademark can be registered, since there are some symbols that are very generic or usual and cannot be appropriated by only one person or company. Another advice given is that the motto of the company or the service is not included in the trademark.
Then it is necessary to see if your trademark has already been registered, since two trademarks can't be equal. Sometimes it is possible to register a trademark that is similar to another one already registered, but only in cases when the sectors of both companies are very different from each other.
The next step is to define what type of trademark yours will be. It is possible to choose between three options:
- Denominative: when there are only letters or words in the trademark
- Figurative: when there are only images in the trademark
- Combined: when there are both images and letters or words in the same trademark.
When choosing the category, it is necessary to define what types of products or services the trademark will protect. INPI uses the International Classification of Goods and Services, also known as Nice Classification, which has a list of 45 categories, each one with information about the different types of products and services. Categories from 1 to 34 cover products and from 35 to 45 cover services; there are also complementary lists, in an attempt to encompass the largest amount of products and services possible.
The register of the trademark can be made via internet, using INPI's website, through e-Marcas. There will be a fee of BRL 355 charged in the beginning of the process – which can be lowered to BRL 140 when the request is made by a private person – and there are other charges during the register. For instance, if there is wrong data in the documents of the process, BRL 70 are charged in order to correct it; or, to make a note telling that there's been a modification in the name of the company or in its address, BRL 35 are charged. The complete list of fees along the registration is available, in Portuguese, here.
Who Can Register the Trademark?
It is possible for the own authors, inventors or creators to register their trademarks and get their patents, as long as they have time to monitor the whole process. If that is not the case, it's advised to hire someone with knowledge of the bureaucracy of the system to represent you and initiate the process. There are different companies that offer this type of service at good prices.
The advantage of requesting your own register is the cost, that is lower. In terms of safety, though, it is better to hire a company that will have plenty of time to look carefully to the whole process.