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Trademarks are a distinctive name, mark or device designed to identify goods as the products of a particular firm.
When a firm has acquired a reputation for quality, the public is more likely to buy goods bearing the name of that firm than unbranded goods, or goods marked with an unknown name. For this reason, the trademark of a reputable firm has real economic value. By registering his trademark, a manufacturer can protect this value.
A registered trademark becomes the property of the person in whose name it is registered. Once a trademark is registered, it becomes an offence for anyone except the owner to use it, or to use a similar one likely to deceive or confuse the public.
Until 1875, if a trademark came by use to be recognised in trade as the mark of the goods of a particular manufacturer, he acquired at common law an exclusive right to use the trade-mark in connection with goods of the same kind.
In 1875 a register of trademarks was established, which is now open to public inspection at the Patent Office, London; and the exclusive right to use a trademark can no longer be acquired except by registration. In the UK to register a trademark, a manufacturer must apply in writing to the Comptroller General of Patents, Designs, and Trade Marks who is the Registrar of trademarks. A registered trademark is valid for seven years, and can be renewed.
In Australia, the matter is now governed by the Commonwealth Trade Marks Acts, based on the English law.