The Hong Kong Trade Marks Registry has recently accepted for registration the first movement mark since the Intellectual Property Department explicitly referred to the “Movement marks and holograms” in its Work Manual in January 2014. From MGM’s roaring lion, to Microsoft Windows start up animation, movement trade marks have been around for a long time but registrations for such marks are still relatively rare.

However, as advertising and marketing becomes more sophisticated, the use of movement marks to capture consumer attention and to distinguish one brand from another, is becoming increasingly important. The acceptance of FWD Group’s "runners" movement mark is a good sign and brand owners, in particular those with motion marks registered in other jurisdictions, should consider applying for registration of such marks in Hong Kong.

The criteria for assessing distinctiveness of a movement mark are no different from traditional marks. The key is to ensure that the movement mark is properly described. According to the Hong Kong Registry Manual, a movement mark should be graphically represented by a series of still images in the correct sequence of movement and the movement should be precisely perceivable from the description. The written description of a movement mark should include the following information:

  • that the mark is a movement mark which consists of a representation of a sequence of images;
  • what the sequence of images depicts, i.e. a precise description of the complete sequence of movement;
  • how many images are involved in the complete sequence of movement;
  • what the sequential order is of the images; and
  • that there is a single (not variable) sequence of movement.

Although the Hong Kong Registry will accept a video clip, this will be for reference purposes only, and the fundamental basis for assessing the registrability of the mark will still be the graphical representation and the written description.

The importance of protecting valuable movement marks in today’s fast-moving multimedia environment should not be underestimated.