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Technical Distinctiveness and the Step-by-step Approach

Paul McClelland

(2020) 32 SAcLJ 74

In the practice of Singapore’s trade mark law, “technical distinctiveness” is currently a fashionable term. But despite its clear origins and meaning, its significance within the analytical frameworks for comparing trade marks is not easily discernible. Some of these difficulties may be attributable to a continuing struggle with the conceptual clarity of the so-called “step-by-step approach” to comparison of trade marks. This discussion will examine how “technical distinctiveness” is used in the cases and, in doing so, will propose some areas in which the conceptual clarity of the law could be improved.