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What is a trademark?

A trademark is a distinctive letter, signature, name, label, numerical or any combination of these that is used to identify and distinguish goods of one person or enterprise in the market place.   The Trade Marks Act Cap 401 defines a trademark as ‘a mark used or proposed to be used in relation to goods for the purpose of indicating, or so as to indicate, a connection in the course of trade between the goods and some person having the right either as proprietor or as registered user to use the mark, whether with or without any indication of the identity of that person'. Under the Act, a mark may include a devise, brand, heading, label, ticket, name, signature, word, letter, numerical or any other combination thereof.

Use of Trade Marks

As stated above, the principal function of a trademark is to identify the origin and thereby distinguish products from those of competitors. Thus, a trademark helps consumers differentiate brands.  In the case of mealie meal, for example, a trademark would assist a consumer identify the preferred mealie meal brand. Accordingly, a trademark can be a marketing tool and an instrument for communicating messages about products, technologies, cultures and individuals. A trademark, though an intangible asset, can also be used as collateral for sourcing loan finance. It can equally be an important asset in mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, cooperative R&D agreements and licensing agreements. As technology becomes an increasingly important component of business, trademarks have further become a symbol of compliance with safety requirements and the fulfillment of technical specifications.

The law applicable to Trade Marks

The principle law on trademarks in Saint Lucia is the Trademarks Act No. 22 of 2001. It provides for registration of trademarks and matters incidental thereto. It is supplemented by Trade Marks Regulations, the Trade Marks Regulations No. 17 of 2003.