October 14, 2022
Having a trade mark associated with your business differentiates your goods and services from those of your competitors and helps build your reputation while adding value to your business. While it's recommended to register your trade mark, to protect its value, there's a lot to think about even before you reach that stage. You have a blank canvas for your brand, so where do you start?! In this blog, we detail the things you should think about before you settle on your trade mark.
Reflect on the look and feel you want to develop for your brand. Consider working with a marketing expert to help you develop your ideas around brand and image – they will be able to alert you to any negative connotations that you may be unaware of – for example, if you’re thinking of expanding internationally, they could check whether your proposed branding has any potentially unfavourable implications abroad.
You will invest a lot of time and money building up your brand and business - if you don’t register your intellectual property (IP) where you can, you’re at risk of a third party exploiting your brand, with very little you can do about it. Having a trade mark registration will enable you to enforce your rights in your trade mark and stop others from using it. Rights do exist in unregistered trade marks, but unregistered rights are typically more difficult to enforce and offer less certainty for the brand owner.
Thinking long term, potential buyers of your business will want to see a strong IP portfolio, with your house in order, to ensure they are not buying a potential problem later down the line. With that in mind, potential buyers could be put off if you don’t have registrations in place.
Words and symbols are the most commonly registered forms of trade mark, but it is possible to register other forms of trade marks too. Here are some some well-known examples:
It’s a common misconception that company names are protected by a trade mark if the company is registered with Companies House. However, this is not the case - the only way to stop a third party from using an identical or confusingly similar name to your business name is to register it as a trade mark.
Having a company registration with Companies House does not guarantee that the company name will qualify for registration as a trade mark. As such, if you wish to register your company name as a trade mark, consider checking whether the name will be registerable as a trade mark before you register the company with Companies House.
You’ll note that domain names are included in our list of registrable trade marks above. As with company names, simply having a domain name registration does not stop others from being able to use it in another context. Though certain unregistered rights may exist, if your domain name is an integral part of your brand, we’d recommend you consider registering it as a trade mark.
So, what does the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) look for in a registerable trade mark?
The IPO may refuse registration on a number of grounds. Here’s an overview of some of the key points to think about:
Your trade mark registration infographic
As you can see, there's plenty to think about when it comes to registering your trade mark. To make things easier, we've collated everything into an infographic to simplify the process. Take a look:
As you can see, there’s a lot to think about when choosing and registering a trade mark. It is worth getting this right at the outset to avoid wasting precious time and money. Discover how our intellectual property lawyers can help.