Protect your trade mark from day one
Don't wait to trademark your product or brand. By the time
you 'get around' to it, a competitor could have nabbed your
intellectual property and you will have no safety net to protect
your business. Mark Kingsley-Williams, director of Trade Mark
Direct, takes you through the trade mark process, explaing the
whys, hows and wheres of registering a trade mark and protecting
Why do I need a trade mark?
Without a registered trade mark your competitors will find it
easier to use your name for similar goods or can even apply to
register it themselves and stop you using it. Also, once you have
already begun trading and built up some good will in your name, it
will be more costly and onerous to discover then that your name
cannot be protected as a registered trade mark and that you should
re-brand your business.
A registered trade mark will also allow you to bring an action
for trade mark infringement against anyone trying to use your name
for similar goods. This is important as it is notoriously difficult
and expensive to succeed in a 'passing off' action if you only have
an unregistered trade mark.
You can trade mark your name or the logo or both together as a
single application. Each option gives a different degree of
protection to your brand.
While your name and logo are unregistered, you can put the TM
symbol for an unregistered trade mark next to them. You can also
use the copyright, C, symbol next to your logo. However, it is a
criminal offence to use the registered trade mark symbol, R, next
to a word or logo that is not registered. Using the registered
trade mark symbol will warn competitors that your mark is
registered and also make them less likely to challenge it.
The myth of Companies House
Registering your business with Companies House
or owning a domain name does not give you the rights to use that
name as a trade mark. In fact, if another company has already
registered the same name as a trade mark, you may actually be
infringing their rights.
The process to get a trade mark is not expensive - from under
£500 - for rights that last for 10 years and can be renewed
The design process
Establishing a corporate identify is one of the most important
things a business will do, therefore ensure that you use a designer
who understands basic trade mark law.
The value of your brand name
Even if your product isn't an international sensation (yet), the
name it is registered under as a trade mark could become incredibly
valuable if a competitor wants to use it.
For example, when Apple was launching the iPad, a company in
Brazil was using the name already for a portable defibrillator. As
the name was registered in Brazil, the trade mark was safe and
Apple could not force the company to cease trading and re-brand - a
costly process for any business - which it could have done
otherwise. For small businesses who haven't got round to
registering their own trade mark yet this should be a wake-up
Protect your trade mark
The speed at which a brand can be destroyed is breath-taking, so
make sure that your brand is properly protected with all the
correct trade marks in place.
To check for free whether your company or product name can be
trade marked visit www.trademarkdirect.co.uk.
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