Trade marks 

A trade mark is a sign which can distinguish your goods and services from those of your competitors (you may refer to your trade mark as your "brand"). It can be for example words, logos or a combination of both. The only way to register your trade mark is to apply to us – Your Trademark Lawyers.

 

Trade marks are acceptable if they are:

Distinctive for the goods and services you provide. In other words they can be recognised as signs that differentiates your goods or service as different from someone else's.

 

Trade marks are not registrable if they:

Describe the goods or services or any characteristics of them, for example, marks which show the quality, quantity, purpose, value or geographical origin of your goods or services;

Have become customary in your line of trade;

Are not distinctive;

Are three dimensional shapes, if the shape is typical of the goods you are interested in (or part of them), has a function or adds value to the goods;

Are specially protected emblems;

Are offensive;

Are against the law, for example, promoting illegal drugs; or;

Are deceptive. There should be nothing in the mark which would lead the public to think that your goods and services have a quality which they do not.

A registered trade mark must be renewed every 10 years to keep it in force.

 

Benefits of registration

Registering your trade mark gives you the exclusive right to use your mark for the goods and/or services that it covers in the country where it is registered.

If you have a registered trade mark you can put the ® symbol next to it to warn others against using it. However, using this symbol for a trade mark that is not registered may be considered as an offence.

 

A registered trade mark:

May put people off using your trade mark without your permission

Makes it much easier for you to take legal action against anyone who uses your trade mark without your permission

Allows Trading Standards Officers or Police to bring criminal charges against counterfeiters if they use your trade mark

is your property, which means you can sell it, franchise it or let other people have a licence that allows them to use it.

 

Protecting unregistered trade marks

If you do not register your trade mark, you may still be able to take action if someone uses your mark without your permission, however, that may be very difficult to prove and the other person can register the mark in his name. Therefore, the owner of the earlier trademark has to file a cancellation action and will probably be more expensive than simply registering a mark.