Trade mark | What is a trade mark? | How to get a trade mark

What is a trade mark?

A trade mark is used to distinguish the goods or services of one company from another. Register your trade mark to protect your brand e.g. the name of your product or service, a phrase, or logo. Your brand is fundamental to your success. Early knowledge of whether a similar brand, name or logo exists ensures that we can design something that is unique to you. And avoid risking delays should anything similar emerge as your product develops.

Trade mark filing schedule process

Why do I need a trade mark?

It provides you with the right to use that mark for the goods/services for which it is registered. It also:

  • Tells people about you and your business, helping to discourage others from getting too close to your mark.
  • Acts as a warning to competitors.
  • Most countries operate a first to file system. Registration protects your interests even before you starting using your trade mark. This provides valuable protection for your business while you get up and running with your project.
  • Registration acts as proof of your rights. Even in countries which protect rights established through use, you have to prove what you’ve got and relying on these rights is usually more expensive and uncertain.
  • A registered trade mark is an asset which can be sold or licensed. For a business, a trade mark can be listed in the balance sheet as an asset.

How do I get a trade mark?

Before launching a new range of goods/services, you should conduct a search to check nobody has rights in your proposed mark or anything similar to stop you moving forward quickly.

In an ideal world you would run comprehensive searches on all relevant trade mark registers and searches on things already in market. Different types of searches are available and we can help you decide on the best level of searching for your project and business.

When you’ve finalised your trade mark and checked you’re free to use it, we recommend that you file an application to protect the mark.

You need to file an application at the national trade mark office of the country in which you want to obtain the trade mark. In the UK this is the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO). This is because trade marks are territorial in nature. Unfortunately there is no worldwide trade mark. Your application will be examined to check the mark is registrable (in most countries it’s not possible to register a mark which is descriptive or laudatory). Some trade mark offices will also conduct searches for earlier identical/similar marks.

How long does it take to register?

In the UK, once your application has been filed with the UK IPO it is examined for registrability and automatic searches for earlier identical/similar trade marks are conducted. The UK IPO will notify the owners of UK trade marks located in these searches. However the UK IPO will not refuse to register a trade mark because it conflicts with another trade mark unless an opposition is filed.

Once the application has been successfully examined, it will be published for two months in case any third parties want to object. Subject to clearing this hurdle, the application goes forward to registration and the certificate is issued. The registration is then effective throughout the whole of the UK. We currently expect the process to take between three and four months. As long as no objections/oppositions are filed!

A registered trade mark is valid for 10 years following registration. It can be renewed indefinitely for subsequent 10 year periods if it’s still of interest to you.

Who can own a trade mark?

Any legal entity can own a trade mark – whether this is a natural person or a company.

What can you register?

You can apply to register any of the following as trade marks:

  • Word
  • Name
  • Logo
  • Sounds
  • Colours
  • 3D Shapes
  • Smells

Other types of intellectual property

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