The protection of trade marks can be an important step for brand owners with many advantages. In this article, we look at the benefits of registering a trade mark and the legal remedies available for trade mark infringement in Tanzania.
Tanzania is made up of two territories, Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar. Although unified, the two territories do not share trade mark laws and protection systems. Therefore it is important to ensure that a trade mark is registered in both Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar.
In Tanzania mainland, trade mark registration is governed by the Trade and Service Marks Act, Cap. 326 RE 2002 and the Trade and Service Marks Regulations of 2000. The regulatory authority mandated with registering trade marks in Tanzania mainland sits within the Business Registration and Licensing Agency.
In Zanzibar, trade mark registration is governed by the Zanzibar Industrial Property Act of 2008. The regulatory authority mandated with registering trade marks in Zanzibar sits within the Business and Property Registration Agency.
Registering a trade mark is at the discretion of the proprietor, and as such, will not attract any penalties on the proprietor of the trade mark for non-registration. However, registering a trade mark does have its advantages and these are set out below:
The exclusive right to the use of a trade mark is acquired by registering the trade mark. Therefore, until a trade mark is registered, there is no guarantee that you are the sole legal proprietor of the trade mark. Non-registration may result in a third party fraudulently registering the trade mark and claiming that the original proprietor of the trade mark is infringing its trade mark. In addition to this, fraudulent third parties may create their own products and pass them off as if made by the original proprietor.
The following are some of the legal remedies available for trade mark infringement:
The most common route to enforce trade mark rights in Tanzania is through the court process. The aggrieved proprietor of a trade mark may institute a suit against the infringing party seeking any of the remedies above.
There is also an administrative enforcement avenue that can be taken through the Fair Competition Commission (FCC). The FCC has a regulatory mandate to enforce trade mark rights through the Fair Competition Act, Cap. 285 RE 2002 and the Merchandise Marks Act, Cap. 85 RE 2002. The FCC's role aims at promoting and protecting consumers from unfair and misleading market practices. The aggrieved proprietor of a trade mark may approach FCC to seek compliance orders and forfeiture or destruction of counterfeit goods that infringe their trade mark.