Trademarks are vital in that they protect the signs and symbols
which differentiate your business from another. This guide will
outline what trademarks are, whether you need to register them or
not and if you do how to apply.
- What is a trademark?
- Register or not?
- How to register a trademark
What is a trademark?
A trademark is a symbol or a sign which differentiates the goods
and services of one business from another one. You can register
your trademark - a name, logo, slogan, domain name, shape, colour
or sound with the Intellectual Property Office. This can legally
protect your trademark from use by a competitor. The trademark must
be distinctive for the goods and services that you provide, not be
deceptive, illegal or immoral and not be similar to existing
trademarks. A registered trademark must be renewed every 10 years
to keep it in force.
- Trademarks can help you distinguish yourself from a
- By registering you can legally protect your trademark by use by
Register or not?
A trademark does not have to be registered but an unregistered
trademark will rely on the common law of 'passing off'. Under this
your business can still take action against a business who uses
your trademark on its goods and services without having your
permission to do so. You have to prove that the trademark is yours,
you have built up a reputation in your mark and you have been
harmed in some way by the other business's use of the mark. This
can be difficult to prove and it is an expensive process. By
registering your trademark it can be easier to take legal action
against any infringement of your trademark by a competitor.
- Find out more about 'passing off' and decide whether your
trademark needs to be registered or not
- Consider applying for a registered trademark for your
How to register a trademark
You can apply to the Intellectual Property Office either through
the post or online. The first step is to fill out a UK trademark
application form. You must provide an illustration of your
trademark which must be capable of being shown or represented in
words or pictures. You have to list all the goods or services you
trade in using the mark you are applying for. It costs £200 to
apply to register a trademark in one category of goods and
services. You can't just apply and assume that your application
will be accepted. Once the application is received by the IPO you
will receive a receipt and then there is a rigorous examination
process undertaken before it is accepted or not.
- Apply to the Intellectual Property Office either online or
through the post
- Set aside £200 for the application fee
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