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Assign A Trade Mark In South Africa

How to Assign a Trademark in South Africa

Lindokuhle Mkhize

Lindokuhle Mkhize

12 October 20233 min read

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assign a trade mark in south africa

Assigning a trademark is essential to protecting intellectual property rights in South Africa. Understanding the trademark assignment process is crucial whether you're a small business owner or a serial entrepreneur.

In this article, we'll explore the ins and outs of how to assign a trademark.

This guide will include its significance, how to transfer ownership, the associated costs, and the overall procedure.

Ownership of trademarks:

The ownership and registration of trademarks in South Africa is open to various entities, including:

  1. individuals and firms
  2. partnerships and corporations

However, it's worth noting that trusts do not meet the requirements of legal personality, so ownership in such cases is vested in the trustee of the trust. Joint applicants are also allowed, providing flexibility for multiple owners.

Scope of trademarks:

Trademarks should be able to distinguish the owner's products or services from those offered by others. This can be inherent or established through prior use. Trademarks can take various forms, such as:

  • devices and names
  • signatures and words
  • numerals and shape
  • configurations and patterns
  • colors and containers

Three-dimensional shapes, sounds, motions, and even collective marks can also be registered, provided they meet the criteria of distinctiveness and graphic representation.

Trademarks not eligible for registration:

Certain absolute grounds exist that prevent trademarks from being registered:

a. Marks that cannot be graphically represented or lack distinctiveness.

b. Marks that consist exclusively of signs or indications related to product characteristics or trade practices.

c. Marks that have become customary in the language or established trade practices.

d. Marks comprising shapes, colors, or patterns that serve technical purposes or limit industry development.

e. Inherently deceptive marks or those that may cause confusion, go against the law, or morality, or offend certain groups.

f. Marks that include names, flags, or symbols of states, nations, regions, or international organizations.

g. Marks filed without a genuine intention to use or possess proper ownership.

Trademark transfer process:

To transfer trademark ownership, a formal assignment is required. This involves the current owner (assignor) transferring their rights to a new owner (assignee) through a written agreement. The assignment should clearly outline both parties' consent and provide details of the trademark being transferred.

Once the assignment is complete, the assignee can apply for trademark registration under their name.

Costs and fees:

Trademark assignment in South Africa incurs costs, including filing fees and professional fees. While the exact expenses may vary, it's vital to anticipate expenses for legal assistance or consulting services, depending on the complexity of the assignment process.

Filing fees:

There are trademark assignment fees to be paid to the South African trademark authorities. These filing fees contribute to the administrative processing of the assignment and are typically based on the value or nature of the transferred trademark.

Professional fees:

To ensure a smooth and legally compliant trademark assignment, it's advisable to seek the assistance of intellectual property professionals. These professionals may include trademark attorneys or consultants who can assist with legal issues such as:

  • drafting the assignment agreement
  • conducting due diligence
  • guiding you through the entire process.

Along with trademark transfer fees, a trademark lawyer's fees may vary depending on their expertise and the complexity of the assignment.

Additional services:

Depending on the specific requirements of your trademark assignment, additional services along with trademark ownership transfer are offered, such as:

  • trademark searches
  • legal advice
  • notarization of documents

Consulting with a trademark lawyer may be necessary. These services may incur additional costs but play a vital role in ensuring the assignment is conducted accurately and with legal compliance.


It's essential to allocate a budget for these trademark assignment costs and factor them into your overall business expenses. Consulting with a trademark lawyer can provide you with a clearer understanding of the expected costs and help you navigate the assignment process more efficiently.

Trademark assignment in the context of the Republic of South Africa

Assigning a trademark in South Africa requires a clear understanding of the process, associated costs, and compliance with legal requirements. By considering the information outlined in this article, you can navigate the complexities of trademark assignment confidently.

It's crucial to consult with intellectual property professionals to ensure a smooth and successful transfer of ownership. Protecting your intellectual property is an investment worth making to safeguard your brand's identity and reputation in the marketplace.

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How do I register a trademark in South Africa?

A registered trademark is permanently protected if you renew the registration every ten years. Contact the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) on 086 100 2472 to learn more about registering a trademark.

How do I trademark a logo and name in South Africa?

Because trademark filing can often be tricky, we recommend hiring one of our skilled trademark attorneys to get the job done. 

What documents are needed for trademark registration in South Africa?

  • Power of attorney containing the applicant's name and street address.
  • If the trademark is in a language other than English, a translation and explanation of its significance.
  • Goods and/or service specifications.
  • Document with priority if priority is asserted.

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