Adrian Rogowski (say row-gof-skee; noun) is an admitted Advocate of the High Court of South Africa and a member of the Cape Bar. Since 2013, Adrian has moved towards intellectual property law, focusing specifically on music law. In 2015, he completed his Master of Laws in Intellectual Property (graduating cum laude). His thesis focused on music law under the supervision of South Africa’s most respected copyright law expert, Professor Owen Dean.

Trade Marking your stage of band name might be a very good idea. To better understand the reasons why you might consider it you can read the first instalment in our series: Trade Marking your stage name. If you decided to take the plunge, the next step will be to search for existing trade marks to determine if the one you want to register is still available.

To start, go to the CIPC’s IP portal. Then hover over the Trade Marks tab to see Free Search and Apply for Trade Mark.

At this stage, it will either prompt you to Log in or Create Account. If you haven’t created an account yet, you can do so here. I won’t walk you through that as it is self-explanatory. Once you created an account and logged in, then we can start.

Side note: Trade Mark classes

I just want to give a quick lesson on trade mark classes before you go searching. When you register a trade mark, it has to be registered in a specific class (i.e. a group or category). This helps the registrar identify what type of products or services you want to use your trade mark for. You cannot go gung-ho and register your trade mark in all 45 classes (Bafana Bafana tried once and failed). It is, therefore, possible to have two similar trade marks but in completely different categories. If you were to hypothetically produce an anti-rust spray and call it “Metallica”, it’s unlikely that others would think the band Metallica came up with the product – there would, therefore, in my opinion, not be any infringement. So, when searching and choosing your classes, make sure they are relevant to your product. Click here to get an idea of the type of products listed in each class. For our purposes, class 9 and 41 are the relevant ones.

Searching

Let’s start with a trademark search. To do so, hover over the Trade Marks tab on the top left and then click on Free Search.

Search for trade marks 1- MuzoPlanet legal notes

The search function is not the most intuitive. You have to write the name of the item or brand you are looking for in the Verbal Mark field and then check the relevant class. The page will refresh, giving you the impression that it has searched, when in fact it hasn’t. You must click Search and you should see results. If you want to do another search, simply click Search Again

For example, type “Plascon” into the Verbal Mark field and select Class 2 (see image below). Class 2 deals with paints, so all paint products (like Plascon) will be registered in this class. Click search and you will get a list of results. You can then click on the blue hyperlinks on the far-left column titled Application no to get more details on that particular trade mark. If you do the same search but choose class 5 instead, you will not find as many trade marks. This is because class 5 deals with products unrelated to the Plascon-Paints series. *Hint, I do my searches, well some at least, with quotation marks on the outside of the words i.e. “Plascon”. This just refines the search a bit more, otherwise, the site might find a whole bunch of trade marks with the word Pla or con, etc.

Search for trade marks 2 - MuzoPlanet legal notes

So now that you know how to do a basic search, have a look to see whether the name you want is available. Focus your searches on class 9 and 41.

In part 3, we get to the actual process of registering your trade mark.

*All images and links provided are accurate at the time I wrote the article. I cannot guarantee that the CIPC won’t change its website from time to time.