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  • Trademarks and logos

     
     

    A registered trademark or logo can help protect a successful product from being fraudulently duplicated. The Colombian Juan Valdez trademark needs no explanation or description: it is virtually known worldwide and is protected against fraudulent use because it is registered in all the main import markets. But the cost of developing and registering a trademark can be high and prospective applicants may even find that their favourite choice is already in use, or is too close to an existing registration to be accepted.

    It is advisable therefore to begin by conducting a search of existing registrations to see if anyone else has already claimed your proposed mark or name. Searches can be made over the Internet on the sites below that also provide information on procedures and regulations pertaining to trade marking and related matters generally in the EU, the US and Japan:

    The EU and US sites also provide information on the Madrid Agreement that deals with the International Registration of Marks. Information on trade related aspects of intellectual property rights generally (TRIPS) is found at www.wto.org. - look for Trips under Trade topics, then Intellectual property.
    For the registration of both trademarks and geographic indications (or appellations of origin which is possibly more appropriate for coffee) an application will have to be filed first of all with your national authorities. These will also be able to advise whether anyone else has already registered what you wish to protect because you cannot register the same (or even a similar) mark or name that someone else may have registered before you. This principle of prior verification applies to foreign countries as well.

    Eventually though one will have to employ a firm of attorneys to conduct a search of existing registrations. Note also that the degree of protection offered by trademark legislation varies from country to country. Taken together these considerations suggest that trade marking should be considered only where the product warrants it, and where the degree of protection is such as to make the effort and cost worthwhile. But certainly, where a producer goes to the trouble and cost to create an appellation for their coffee and backs it up with registration in a GIS database, then trade marking of the name will complete the safeguarding process.

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