A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. A service mark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods. Some examples include brand names, slogans, and logos. The term “trademark” is often used in a general sense to refer to both trademarks and service marks.

How do You Identify a Trademark?

Commonly-used symbols to identify a trademark are ® and TM. The 2 symbols are different in the following ways:
® refers to a registered and protected trade mark pursuant to trade mark laws; whereas
™ merely identifies that the mark is being used as a trademark by the owner and under process of registration trademark, but the mark is not necessarily registered or protected under trademark laws.

Key Features of Singapore’s Trade Marks Act

Although it is not mandatory to register a trademark in order to use it under Singapore law, a trade mark registration adds great value to a business. By filing for trade mark registration, the trade mark owner obtains a right to ownership and the right to prevent others from using a similar or identical mark without the owner’s permission.

There is no time limit for filing according to the Trade Marks Act. However, it should be noted that a suit for an infringement of a registered trademark is only possible if the trade mark is registered. A trademark registration takes effect from the date of filing. The validity period of a registered trademark in Singapore is 10 years, and can be renewed indefinitely at the end of each 10-year period.

The Advantages of Registered Trademarks

A trade mark can add value to your business. Using a trade mark can help customers easily identify and remember your products and services, allowing you to build customer loyalty and protect your market share.


A trade mark must be capable of being represented graphically. This sign can be any letter, word, name, signature, numeral, device, brand, heading, label, ticket, shape, colour, aspect of packaging or a combination of these. Unlike jurisdictions like the United States, the Singapore trademarks regime does not require evidence of use to be filed before a trade mark registration is granted.

The following cannot be registered as a trade mark:

• Marks that are descriptive (e.g. super, best, cheap, one dozen)
• Marks that are not distinctive or are common to your trade (ones that have become well accepted in relation to your trade and do not distinguish the goods or service you are offering)
• Marks that could offend or promote immoral behaviour
• Deceptive marks (ones that could misrepresent the nature, quality or geographical origin of the goods or services)
• Marks that are identical to earlier marks
• Marks that could cause confusion, as there is a similar or identical mark filed earlier in relation to similar or identical goods and/or services
• Marks that are identical or similar to well-known marks

Average Time to Register a Trademark

It may take about 6 to 9 months for a trade mark to be registered. The corresponding time process will appear according to the following situations:

• Descriptiveness
• Non-distinctiveness
• Prior conflicting rights