Print this page

How uganda’s SME's can reap benefits of brand positioning through trademark registration

Mr. Bemanya Twebaze, Registrar General, Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) Mr. Bemanya Twebaze, Registrar General, Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB)


By Bemanya Twebaze


The use of marks or symbols as a means to identify the source of goods is an old tradition which is attributed to the evolution of trademarks or branding. In today’s dynamic and competitive business environment, branding is not just about putting out symbols, logos and names on various media platforms. It is a gradual process of building an emotional attachment with customers in the market place. 

A business enterprise needs to provide consumers with a memorable positive impression and impactful experience in its brand communication. How a business positions itself in the market place determines its brand value. Branding should be one of the core aspects of a business strategy in order to achieve a competitive edge. The fact that brands create value for a business, they are essential intangible assets which must be protected from infringement.

It is very important to note that until a brand is registered as a trademark, you cannot be certain of ownership. Using an unregistered trademark makes it more susceptible to trademark violation. Although violation is actionable in court, it is more cumbersome to prove unregistered marks than in a case of infringement of a registered trademark.

For a business to avoid costly litigation, it is advisable to register its trademark. This enables adequate control and ownership of a brand to a business. Trademark registration also helps protect one’s business against counterfeits and also compels a business owner to create quality products that reflect the business brand and ensure customer loyalty. 

In Uganda’s economy, trademark registration comes in handy for startups of small and medium enterprises. According to a research done by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and published in August 2018, SME’s account for 90% of the private sector. Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have been identified as the engine of growth of the Ugandan economy spread across all sectors such as the service sector, commerce and trade, manufacturing among others. 

Despite their major role in our country’s economy, there are a number of barriers which affect SMEs in doing business including lack of knowledge of opportunities in foreign markets and lack of funds. Part of the problem could also be limited to awareness about the Trademark system amongst the SME’s.

Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) in an effort to mitigate some of the barriers which hamper the growth of SMEs has since engaged small, medium and large players in business through collaboration with Uganda Manufacturers Associations (UMA), Kampala City Trader's Association (KACITA), Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association Limited (UWEAL), Uganda Small Scale Industries Association (USSIA) among others, with focus on formalization of businesses through trademark registration. Previously the Trademarks register was filled largely by foreign applications, but during financial years 2016/2017- 2017/2018 we have seen an increase in the number of trademarks registered by local businesses.

In a bid to enlighten business on the value of registering their trademarks, URSB held a sensitization workshop that attracted over 180 participants from SMEs creating awareness on the value of branding and managing their Intellectual Property assets as a tool to enhance the competitiveness of their businesses. For SMEs striving to curve a niche in the market, protection of intellectual property assets like trademarks must inform the business strategy yet businesses have been slow to exploit this. 

Trademark registration is done at URSB through a simplified process that can be accessed on various information dissemination platforms. Local businesses need to critically work on addressing protection of their brands to safeguard their trade marks. Distinction of one’s business from the competition is that unique identifier that customers need to see. 


The writer is the Registrar General  / Twitter @BemanyaT


Published: April 5, 2019

Related items