Trademarks protect the goodwill associated with a company, its products or services by entitling the
owner to a monopoly over commercial use of a term or symbol in association with particular
categories of products and services. A trademark is a device, word or words that are secured by legal
registration or established by use as representing the company and its products or services.
In Europe, each country has its own trademark registration system, but there is also a central
registry operated by the European Union (EU) through its Office for the Harmonisation of the
Internal Market (OHIM), based in Alicante, Spain. Sanctions against trademark infringement and
the production or importation of counterfeit goods must be obtained and enforced through the
courts of the individual countries in which the illegal activities occur.
Registration of a trademark may be renewed for as long as the mark is used in association with
the selected one or more categories of product or services. Trademarks can develop significant
value, contributing substantially to a company’s worth as well as to its profile.