When registering a company in Malta, and you set out to create a valuable brand name (as well as trade name and logo) should make sure to research if it is available and secure exclusive usage rights of these assets by applying for and register a trademark. If you’re planning to register, renew or make amendments to a Malta Trademark or EU trademark, keep the following advice in mind.

What exactly is a Malta trademark?

A Malta trademark is a trademark which is registered specifically under the Malta territory. A trademark can be any kind of distinctiveness about your business that can be rendered graphically, whether through words, pictures, and other possibilities (including a domain name).

Business organizations rely on trademarks to safeguard unique intellectual aspects which are instrumental to their operations. Its purpose is to guarantee consistency and exclusivity in public communication and advertising, as well as identifying the organization behind a product or service in a way that is clearly recognizable to consumers.

Why apply for a Malta trademark?

If you have a valuable brand that you want to keep third parties from using, you will have to register a Malta trademark. By doing so, you will have exclusive usage rights of that brand within the Malta territory, and those rights will be safeguarded by the local law.

Securing a trademark will give you some important rights, such as being able to protect the identity of your goods and products before releasing them to the mass market. It will also give you assurance in case a dispute arises around the ownership of your brand assets, since in such a situation the trademark owner generally has rights to the intellectual property encompassed in the trademark. Keep in mind. However, that a trademark registration only presumes your ownership – it does not guarantee it.

Can domain names be registered as trademarks?

If you have a valuable domain name related to your business operations, you can (and in fact you should) make sure to register its trademark specifically. This is because trademarks are general in scope, so you’re not guaranteed coverage in case specific issues arise from someone infringing on your brand by registering a domain name alluding directly or indirectly to your brand.

There have been several cases that escalated into costly and time-consuming court battles that could have been avoided if the trademark owner had secured trademarks of relevant domain names. By doing so, your business will be safeguarded from issues such as cybersquatting (where someone appropriates one of your domain names because you forgot to renew it, for example). Registering a domain name trademark is just like registering any other intellectual property which is valuable to your business, and it’s usually simple to do as long as the domain names involved actually have some kind of distinctiveness that relates to your brand.

Is there a difference between a Malta trademark and EU trademark?

If you’re wondering whether you should register a Malta trademark or a EU trademark, it may be useful to clarify the difference. Simply put, trademarks are bound to specific territories – meaning you have to register your trademark separately in each country where you want to keep your brand rights protected.

– Malta trademarks will thus give you legal protection within the territory comprised by the islands of Malta. This registration won’t be as costly as a full-fledged EU trademark, so it can be quite suitable and sufficient for business operations whose scope of operations is limited exclusively to this area, without no plans or intention for subsequent expansion.

– EU trademarks, also known as CTM (Community trademark) should be registered in Alicante, Spain at the OHIM offices (Office for Harmonization of International Markets). The regulation for a Community trademark ensures that a trademark owner will have exclusive usage rights within all the EU member states. This means that rather than having to register a separate trademark in each one of the EU countries separately, you can simply apply for a EU trademark. If you’re planning to spread your business across Europe, this is usually the simplest and most cost effective way to secure trademark rights within the entire region.

Do trademarks have an expiration period?

Trademark registration does not last forever, although you can renew it indefinitely one decade at a time. You have to make sure to renew your trademarks every 10 years, if you want to keep it under your control; moreover, you should make sure to actually put your trademark to use within five years of registering it, otherwise it could be taken away from you.

Is it worth getting the advice of an expert before applying for a Malta trademark?

While registering a trademark isn’t usually a troublesome process, there are possible difficulties that may delay the process, which can be avoided by asking for advice from a Malta trademark specialist.

In order to ensure your Malta trademark request will be approved quickly and successfully, consider getting expert advice before submitting your request to ensure there are no issues with it. Common issues that sometimes cause the rejection of a Malta trademark registration include failure to comply with certain key aspects of a trademark, as well as applying for a trademark which is too similar to another which has already been registered for related products or services.