What is a Trade Mark?

Trademarks exist to distinguish the goods and services of one trader from the goods and services of another. Simply put, a trademark is how your customers (and potential new customers) can identify the products and services you provide. 

Trademarks can take many different forms; including words, slogans, shapes, colours—even sounds and are registered within individual categories, called classes. A Trademark is only valid for the class of business it is registered in. It is possible for two similar or even identical trademarks to be registered, so long as they are in unrelated classes. For example Speedy’s Coffee would match Speedy’s Electrics, but because the two are in unconnected categories, this would be allowed. There are 45 different classes to choose from. 

Ideally, your trademark should be a unique identifier. It should not be descriptive and can’t include geographical names, common surnames, registered company names or anything implying royal patronage. Trademarks must be registered in order to have protection in the UK and can last indefinitely so long as the trademark meets a few basic conditions. 

The trademark:

  • Is used in commerce
  • Has renewal fees paid as required
  • Does not become generic
  • Is identified as a trademark by ® where required.

Things to Keep in Mind

Before you select your trademark, make sure that you’re not infringing on someone else’s by conducting a thorough search. The last thing you want is to go through the process of  registering a your trademark only to find out the one you want is not available. 

Think about  which categories of goods and services you need to protect as well as what geographical areas you are likely to need covered.  You can register your trademark to protect you in the UK or another individual country, throughout the European Union and internationally. It is important to really consider this factor because in many countries, registering a company name or domain name will provide no enforceable rights. Ensuring your mark is registered enables you to prevent unauthorised use that could mislead your customers, cause damage to your reputation and in some cases even allow someone else to register your mark blocking your access. The best and most easily enforceable way to protect your brand is through trademark registration.

Why Should I Register my Trade Mark?

Many people do not realise that registering a company name or a domain name will in many countries provide no enforceable rights, and the limited rights that such registrations provide in other countries are very much second best to a registered trade mark.

A trade mark registration enables you to prevent unauthorised use of your mark (or similar marks) by others. If you do not register your mark and someone else does register that mark (or even a mark that is similar to your mark) you could encounter objection and possibly even be prevented from continuing to use your own mark!

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