What’s a trademark?

A Trademark can be a word, a symbol, a design, or a combination of these, used to distinguish the goods or services of one person or organization from those of others in the market place. For example, the word “Coca-Cola” is a trademark, as are “Coca-Cola” written in stylized script and the original curvy Coca-Cola bottle design

A Trademark is a sign which serves to distinguish the goods of an industrial or a commercial enterprise or a group of such enterprises, consequently the sign may consist of one or more distinctive works, letters, numbers, drawings or pictures, monograms, signatures, colours or combination of colours etc. The sign may consist also of combinations of any of the said elements.

What can be trademarked?

Trademarks in Kenya are categorized in accordance to the international Classification of goods and services as provided for under the NICE protocol. A Trade Mark may be registered under any of the 45 Classes or a combination of any of the classes subject to the Nature of goods and services.

Anything that distinguishes the goods or services of your party or company from another qualifies can be trademarked. However, the item must be used in a commercial setting to obtain protection from the law.

The process of registration of a trade mark

1st step Trade mark Name Search.

A preliminary Search is conducted to find out whether the trademark is registrable or not and also whether there exists in the records a trademark which could be confused with the intended trade mark. An application for a Name search is done by the applicant or his agent using Form TM27.

2nd step Trade Mark Application. TM2.

Upon the preliminary search approval by the registrar of Trade Marks, a person claiming to be the proprietor of a trade mark, used or proposed to be used by him, and who is desirous of registering it should apply to the Registrar on form TM 2 accompanied by seven (7) representations of the mark.

Where the application for Trade Mark is done by an Agent of the applicant. The application shall include a Form TM1 – Form for appointment of agent. The application is accompanied by Form TM 32 – For entry of the address of service in Kenya.

3rd step Examination of Trade Mark.
The formal process of registration of a Trade Mark in Kenya commences with three stages of Examination.

  • Formality examination – A scrutiny of the documents and purpose of the application if in order and legible for processing of the trademark.
  • Search – a secondary search is conducted by the registrar of Trade marks to ascertain that there is no similar or closely resembling mark on the Register of Trade Marks in Kenya.
  • Substantive Examination – The Mark and description are examined to ensure its distinctiveness and uniqueness.

4th step Advertisement.

Upon successful examination and where the Registrar of Trade Marks is satisfied that the application is proper, the application is advertised and published in the KIPI journal to allow interested parties to raise objections to the pending application if any. The advertisement is for 60 days.

5th step Registration.
Where there is no objection in the mandatory 60 days after publication in the journal, the process of registration begins. The mark shall be registered as at the date of application for Registration.

Requirements for registration of a Trademark in Kenya.

  • Proposed Trade Mark name for name search approval.
  • Proposed Art Work and Trade mark description. In soft and Hard copy
  • Names of the applicant /s in Full.
  • Postal address for the Applicant.
  • Proposed Physical address of the Applicants. Address includes road, plot number, town, county / Country.
  • Copy of Registration certificates where applicants is a Business.


Foreign applicants are required to file through an agent and thus the application should be accompanied by the form of authorization Form TM 1 or the power of attorney duly completed and signed and must have a duty stamp affixed on it.

The application should also be accompanied by form TM 32 (for entry of the address of service in Kenya). The applicant is required to file a separate application for each mark in each different class 63.

6th Step Certificate of registration

Upon the registration of a trade mark the Registrar shall issue to the applicant a certificate in Form TM 10A, and shall affix thereto a copy of the mark.

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