Kampala- Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) has urged Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to register their trademarks in order to protect their businesses.
A trademark is a sign used to distinguish the goods and services offered by one enterprise from those of another. By its nature, it should be distinctive and not mislead clients.
It may consist of any word, symbol, design, slogan, logo, sound, smell, colour, label, name, signature, letter or number.
“It helps to protect your business against counterfeits. If you have a registered trademark and you raise a complaint, we can get the enforcement unit to confiscate the counterfeit because they are usually cheaper and this spoils your business,” Ms Jane Okot, the URSB deputy registrar general, said during a sensitisation workshop for SMEs last Thursday in Kampala.
Establishing a trademark compels business owners to create quality products that boost loyalty from customers.
Ms Okot cited a slow response towards application for trademarks among local businesses.
Majority of traders applying for registration of trademarks in Uganda own foreign companies, a problem she associated with lack of knowledge among local business owners.
According to URSB, there are approximately 70,000 foreign companies with registered trademarks in Uganda while local companies stand at 15,000.
This implies that Ugandans are not aware of the significance of their Intellectual Property (IP) or new inventions such as names, artistic work, designs, yet it is a source of income.
“If you are selling your business where you have registered your trademark, it enhances the value much more. So, this is an asset from which you can earn,” Ms Okot said.
Registration of Intellectual Property drives economic growth. As per URSB benchmarks, countries such as South Korea and Japan are benefiting from high IP registration among local SMEs.
Mr Phillip Kalibbala, the senior registration officer at URSB, said businesses with unregistered trademarks risk losing a lot of money in court adjudications.
“You can lose more money if your trademark is not registered since someone can easily infringe on it. For you to stop someone, you have to pay so much money in a fight to get it back,” he said.