Trade marks are relatively inexpensive. A registered trade mark must be renewed every ten years to keep it valid at a cost of £200 for the first or only class of the registration, and £50 for each additional class.
- Always check the name of your company or product before use.
- Company registration does not necessarily confer rights to trade.
- Your brand/name is an asset. Consider protecting it.
- You can only use ® if your trade mark is registered.
- ™ can be used on registered and unregistered trade marks.
- A Registered UK Trade Mark will only give protection within the UK. If you trade outside the UK you should consider international protection.
- You will need professional advice.
- Trade marks could be just part of your IP strategy. You may also need to consider, design, patent or copyright protection
What should I do?
- Choose a trade mark. The mark must not describe the service directly, for example it must not be 'chocolate biscuit' for a chocolate biscuit product. Nor must it mislead people about your goods or services. The mark must not conflict with one already registered. Remember to make the mark as original and distinctive as possible.
- Meet the legal requirements. The 1994 Trade Mark Act states: "A trade mark is any sign capable of being represented graphically which is capable of distinguishing goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings."
- Decide which classes you want to register your goods of services in. There are 45 classes to choose from.
- Conduct trade mark searches to make sure no one has rights to your trade mark prior to you via the UK and European Community Trade Mark Registers.
- Filing. Apply to register your trade mark at the UK or Community Trade Mark Registry, who will examine it and determine whether it can be registered. If accepted to be registered, your trade mark will be shown in the Trade Marks Journal, whereupon oppositions may be filed for the next three months. If there are no objections, your trade mark can be registered and you will receive a certificate. If there are oppositions to your application, a trade mark attorney can offer you help and guidance on what to do next.
For advice and events about protecting your company name and product names visit the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) website, the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (www.itma.org.uk), or the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (www.cipa.org.uk).