The Trademarks Office will not register a trademark which is confusing with a registered trademark or with a trademark in another application having priority. The application with the earliest date, either the filing date or the date of first use, has priority. Use of a trademark confusing with a registered mark may make the user liable for damages if legal action is taken for trademark infringement.
In addition, if registration of a trademark is desired, it must not be clearly descriptive of the goods or services it identifies. An example of a clearly descriptive mark is SUPERWASH to identify woolen goods. On the other hand, trademarks may be registered if they are merely suggestive of the goods and services. An example is WATER WOOL for woolen goods. The assistance of an experienced trademark agent is usually needed to decide whether a mark is clearly descriptive or not.
A trademark normally cannot be registered if it is nothing more than a surname. An example is JONES to identify wine. However ELDERS may be registered for wine because, while it is a surname, it has another meaning.
Clearly descriptive trademarks or surnames may be registered after a period of extensive use. An example is the trademark MCDONALDS.
There are other marks which cannot be registered, such as the name of the goods or services in any language, various flags, coats of arms and marks confusing with marks adopted by public authorities. A trademark agent should therefore be consulted before deciding on a mark.