Ons het al almal daardie klein handelsmerksimbole, die klein ® en ™, langs die handelsname en logo’s gesien wat ons in ons daaglikse lewens verwelkom het. Maar hoekom is daar twéé simbole waar ‘n enkele een sou kon werk? Die antwoord is eintlik baie eenvoudiger as wat jy dalk dink.
Om iets uniek te skep, neem tyd en passie, en vereis dikwels dat ‘n mens ‘n paar keer terug gaan na die tekenbord. Dit maak dus net sin dat jy die unieke aspekte van jou besigheid, handelsmerk of produk wil beskerm. En as ‘n sakevaardige individu, wéét jy, jy kan – danksy intellektuele eiendomsreg en handelsmerke. Maar die handelsmerk van hierdie unieke elemente, of dit nou ‘n woord- of ontwerpmerk is, kan op twee maniere bewerkstellig word – wat ons na twee simbole lei.
Ongeregistreerde handelsmerke ™
Die handelsmerksimbool wat die maklikste herken word, is waarskynlik die ™, wat gebruik word vir ongeregistreerde handelsmerke (ook bekend as gemeenregtelike handelsmerke). Die ™-simbool dui aan dat ‘n sekere element aan die spesifieke besigheid/handelsmerk/produk behoort, maar nie amptelik by die Kommissie vir Maatskappye en Intellektuele Eiendom (CIPC) geregistreer is nie.
Sodra die oorspronklike element geskep is, behoort die intellektuele eiendomsreg outomaties aan die skepper – dit is nou as die element werklik uniek is. Maar in ’n wêreld waar daar “niks nuuts onder die son” is nie, om die skrywer van Prediker aan te haal, kan jy nie die feit ignoreer dat ’n ander onderneming dalk met dieselfde of ten minste soortgelyke elemente vir hul produkte of besighede vorendag gekom het nie. Dit is waar die konsep van welwillendheid inkom.
Om jou handelsmerkeienaarskap te verseker, moet jou unieke element ‘n reputasie verdien, waar die publiek (insluitend beide bestaande en potensiële kliënte) die element met jou handelsmerk assosieer. Die merk se reputasie moet deel vorm van die klandisiewaarde van die besigheid (d.w.s. ‘n ontasbare bate vir die besigheid wees) en nie ‘n onafhanklike bestaan geniet nie. Jy kan byvoorbeeld nie eienaarskap van ‘n bestaande kunswerk verkry nie aangesien dit reeds outonoom bestaan en ‘n reputasie buite jou besigheid het.
Die gebruik van ‘n ongeregistreerde handelsmerk is heeltemal moontlik en redelik algemeen, maar met gemeneregtelike handelsmerke vereis die klandisiewaarde van die merk dat die IP-eienaar voortdurend die gebruik van hul handelsmerk moet polisieer om te verseker dat die gebruik van ‘n soortgelyke merk nie groter publieke herkenbaarheid verdien nie. Sodra ‘n ander besigheid se gebruik van die merk ‘n groter publieke teenwoordigheid verkry, sal die welwillendheid van die merk by hulle berus, en jy, as oorspronklike skepper, kan uiteindelik die reg verloor om die element te gebruik.
Om jou handelsmerk se reputasie te bewys, kan egter heeltemal vermy word deur jou handelsmerk amptelik by die CIPC te registreer.
Geregistreerde handelsmerke ®
Die ®-simbool word gebruik sodra ‘n handelsmerk wettig by die CIPC geregistreer is. Die grootste voordeel van ’n geregistreerde handelsmerk is dat dit jou bewyse van prima facie van eienaarskap bied, wat beteken dat ongeag hoe klein jou handelsmerk se reputasie in die openbare oog mag wees, jy volle eienaarskap van die handelsmerkelement(e) behou.
Behalwe vir volle eienaarskap, help handelsmerkregistrasie ook om regsbeskerming te vereenvoudig. Anders as hul ongeregistreerde eweknieë (wat deur die gemenereg beheer word), word geregistreerde handelsmerke deur die Wet op Handelsmerke beheer, wat ‘n omvattende en gefokusde wetgewende grondslag vir handelsmerkgebruik in Suid-Afrika bied. Dit vergemaklik die afdwinging van jou handelsmerk aangesien jy uitgebreide, handelsmerk-spesifieke voordele geniet wat buite die bestek van gemenereg val.
In beide gevalle, geregistreerd of ongeregistreerd, bied handelsmerke besighede en entrepreneurs die geleentheid om die unieke elemente te beskerm wat hul besighede, handelsmerke en produkte van die res laat uitstaan. En in ‘n wêreld waar daar niks nuuts onder die son is nie, moet jy alles in jou vermoë doen om iets unieks te beskerm en dit nie ligtelik opneem nie.
Hierdie is ‘n algemene inligtingstuk en moet gevolglik nie as regs- of ander professionele advies benut word nie. Geen aanspreeklikheid kan aanvaar word vir enige foute of weglatings of enige skade of verlies wat volg uit die gebruik van enige inligting hierin vervat nie. Kontak altyd u regsadviseur vir spesifieke en toegepaste advies.
Attorney | LLB | NQF 7
Harmann graduated in 2018 with an LLB degree from the North-West University’s Potchefstroom Campus. He went on to study and grow in various fields, including doing a course on the Consumer Protection Act and a course at the University of South Africa where he obtained his NQF 7 Certificate in the Administration of Deceased Estates.
Harmann completed his articles of clerkship at Swemmer & Levin under the supervision of Mr Richard Phillips. After being admitted as an attorney in 2020, Harmann continued with Swemmer & Levin as a professional assistant in the deceased estates department as well as the litigation department. He loves to study, possesses a deep curiosity about the world, and is dedicated to giving back to the community.
Andre van der Walt
Attorney | LLB | NQF 7
Andre graduated in 2015 with an LLB degree from the University of Pretoria. He later went on to obtain his NQF 7 Certificate in the Administration of Deceased Estates from the University of South Africa, which allowed him to further his career in deceased estates and the drafting of wills and trusts. Andre served his articles at Barnard & Patel Attorneys under the supervision of Mr YAS Patel. After being admitted as an attorney in 2016, he continued working at Barnard & Patel Attorneys as a professional assistant in the deceased estates department.
Andre joined Van Rensburg Attorneys in 2019 and was head of the deceased estates department until 2021. He then received the opportunity to move to the West Coast, where he joined Swemmer & Levin Attorneys. Andre loves travelling and enjoys the beauty that our country has to offer with his friends, family, and loved ones.
Director | Attorney | LLB
Jandré grew up and matriculated in the small Klein Karoo town of Oudtshoorn. He furthered his studies at the North-West University in Potchefstroom, obtaining his LLB degree during 2015. He completed his articles at Swemmer & Levin in 2017 and was subsequently appointed as a professional assistant. In 2020, Jandré was promoted to the position of director at the firm, where he practises in the Litigation department at our Langebaan office. When not practising law, Jandré is an avid sports fan. He has a passion for nature and enjoys camping, trail running, and mountain biking with his family.
Director | Attorney | Bcom & BProc
After matriculating at Paarl Boys’ High School, Richard completed his BCom and BProc degrees at the University of Port Elizabeth. He served his articles with Van Wyk Fouchee in Paarl and quickly developed an affinity for litigation. Richard has always had a deep love for the ocean and when he was presented with an opportunity to join Swemmer & Levin on the West Coast, he agreed without hesitation and has been with our firm since 1997. Richard specialises in general litigation and divorces. When he is not in the office or with his family, he tries to spend as much time as possible in or on the water.
Director | Attorney | BA. LLB
Johann matriculated at Oudtshoorn High School and attended Stellenbosch University, where he obtained his BA Law and LLB degrees. Following his studies, he worked for three years as State Prosecutor at the Magistrate’s Court in Cape Town. Johann completed his legal training with the State Attorney in Pretoria and then moved to his hometown, Oudtshoorn, where he worked as a lawyer for a year. In 1983, he finally moved to Vredenburg and joined Swemmer & Levin, where he is still practising as a director. When he is not in the office, Johann enjoys cycling and in his earlier days, he used to be a long-distance junkie.
Director | Attorney & Conveyancer | BA. LLB
Pieter obtained his BA Law degree from Stellenbosch University in 1995 and his LLB degree from the North-West University in Potchefstroom in 1998. He served his articles at Marais Muller Attorneys from 1998 to 1999 and was admitted as an attorney in 2000 and as a conveyancer in 2002. Pieter is the founder of PP Smit Attorneys, which opened its doors in 2004. He also became a director of Swemmer & Levin in 2006. Pieter loves the outdoors and participating in all forms of sport, including tennis, golf, fishing, spearfishing, scuba diving, and hiking. He also holds an LSA Pilot’s Licence and is a proud member of the Saldanha Flying Club.
Director | Attorney, Notary & Conveyancer | BA. LLB
Jan graduated in 1974 with a five-year BA LLB degree from the University of Stellenbosch, whereafter he was admitted as an advocate and prosecuted as such in the Cape Town and Wynberg Courts. In 1974, he joined Swemmer & Levin as the Candidate Attorney of Mr Levin (founding member) and was admitted as an attorney on 7 April 1976, as a conveyancer on 11 January 1978, and as a Notary on 19 December 1984. Since 1974, he has served in various committees, including the West Coast Chamber of Commerce, the Vredenburg School Committee, and the Malgas Lions Club.
Furthermore, Jan was the author of the first bilingual law book, The New Debt Collecting Procedures (Die Nuwe Skuldinvorderingsprosedures), which was used by all the Magistrate Courts throughout South Africa. With the founding of the Small Claims Court in Vredenburg, Jan served as one of the first Commissioners. He is currently based at Swemmer & Levin’s Vredenburg office and has been with our firm for more than 47 years.
Attorney & Notary | LLB
Carien grew up and matriculated in the picturesque town of Ceres, whereafter she furthered her studies at the University of Stellenbosch and obtained her LLB degree in 2015. She completed her articles at VanderSpuy Cape Town in 2017 and stayed on as an associate litigant after being admitted as an attorney during early 2018. Carien loves the countryside and thus ventured back to Ceres where she joined Joubert Van Vuuren Inc. for a year. However, when she was presented with the opportunity to enjoy both the country- and the seaside, she couldn’t resist and joined Swemmer & Levin at the beginning of 2022 as an avid litigator. When she is not at the office, Carien enjoys long walks, wine tasting, and exploring the area with her family and friends.