Why You Should Register Your Business' Trademark
If you have an unusual or bespoke business name that you are rightly proud of why not seal your ownership of it and apply for a registered trademark?
Registration protects the look and image of your business, which is crucial and a sensible step to consider. You can protect a phrase, logo, symbol, or word, and once registered it will deter other businesses from copying you.
If you chose not to bother (registering), your business could well be impacted negatively – not just the risk of another firm having a very similar or identical logo, name or slogan, and the customer confusion that might follow but also the legal costs involved in enforcing your rights. Furthermore, if you fail to make enquiries, you might to your horror accidentally be using a mark that belongs to someone else and end up paying them costs and damages.
The worst-case scenario here is that your business may have to change its name or redesign the logo or strapline – please see our feature on the Hugo Boss issue! Imagine the confusion and costs involved in making the changes and communicating this to your clients and suppliers.
Protecting a trademark by registration also protects your business image as it naturally brings consistency in that it also ensures your competitors are unable to copy your logos or identity. Legal action is more easily enforced against anyone caught using your identity without your permission. Furthermore, Trading Standards can bring prosecutions against counterfeiters of goods. If you own the brand you can also licence it out and increase revenue stream if you are a franchise for example.
Everyday Legal offers a low-cost trademark registration service which will help you to protect your business. Once registered you can put the ® symbol next to your brand. This proves that you own the mark and it acts as a warning to others against using it.
What Trademarks Can You Register?
Your trademark must be unique. You can register words, logos, colours or a combination of these. You cannot register anything offensive or pornographic. You cannot register the goods or services your mark relates to. E.g. you cannot register ‘wool’ as a trademark for the woollen industry. Furthermore, your mark cannot be misleading e.g. using the word ‘vegan’ if the produce is not ‘vegan’. You cannot use any 3-dimensional shapes, nor can any word descriptions be too vague or generic e.g. the sole word ‘wood’. Finally, you cannot register anything too closely resembling symbols, flags, or hallmarks based on the World Intellectual Property Organization guidelines.
Procedure For Registering Your Trademark
You must check that your proposed trademark is available and not already registered. This involves searching the trademarks database before you send your application to us (With our service, we will double check this for you as well). This will confirm whether anyone has already registered an identical or similar trademark for the same or similar goods or services. If you find that someone has beaten you to it, you could write to them and obtain a letter consenting to your registration and have a joint existence. This is normally the case if you operate in different markets. You cannot change your trademark once you’ve applied, and the fees are non-refundable. If this is your first time, there is a government guide available.
What Happens Following Trademark Application?
- You’ll receive an examination report within 20 days – giving initial feedback - you have 2 months to resolve any difficulties raised in that report. For example, this might be something wrong with the application in that the proposed mark is too close to another one.
- If the trademark office (the ‘examiner’) has no objections, then your application will be published in the trade marks journal (which is the government official journal – see trade marks journal) for 2 months, during which time anyone can oppose it.
- After 2 months – if no one opposes, or after objections have been resolved, your trademark will be registered. You will then get your certificate!
What Happens If Your Trademark Application Is Opposed?
The Intellectual Property Office will tell you if someone opposes your application.
You can either withdraw your application, discuss the matter with the person opposing, or go ahead and defend the opposition. However, you won’t be able to register your trademark until the matter is settled and may have to pay legal costs if you want to challenge the opposing party.
With our Trademark Registration Service, the fee we charge is for uncontested applications and doesn’t include any work around oppositions (if you need help with this we would be happy to discuss your needs and propose a reasonable fee).
Your Obligations Following Registration
You must notify any changes to your name, address or email address. You can also object to other people’s applications if you think they are identical or similar to yours. You can sell or licence your trademark. Your trademark will last 10 years and is renewable.
7th October 2020
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