How to protect your company or brand name
Published 01.11.08 at 09:30
A trade mark is a sign that you apply to your goods or services to distinguish them from those of your competitors. It is the 'badge of origin' of your business, and can include the name of your business and its products and services, any logos and pictures that you use, or a combination of these.
As well as protecting your brand, a trade mark can be used as a useful marketing tool to enable customers to recognise your products or services.
A trade mark should be registered since it will be easier and cheaper to protect than an unregistered mark, and can be dealt with as 'property'.If your mark is unregistered, you will only be able to enforce your rights in it if you have an established reputation in the mark and someone has misrepresented their goods as yours, causing you loss. If you have a registered mark, you can take action against them for trade mark infringement even before you have used the mark or established any reputation in it.
A registered mark can be dealt with as any other property and can be licensed, mortgaged and sold, etc. This makes it easy to transfer it between businesses, and if you don't want to use it, you can charge someone else for using it by licensing it to them for royalties. A registered trade mark adds value to your business.
Practical steps: You can obtain a registered trade mark in the UK by applying to the Trade Marks Registry, which is part of the UK Intellectual Property Office, and is based in Newport, Wales.
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Please note that this article discusses the legal position in the UK at the time of publication. It provides general information only but is not to be regarded as legal advice. You must take advice from a specialist lawyer in relation to your specific circumstances. Further, you should seek additional legal advice when dealing with parties based in other parts of the world or works originating from other parts of the world as the legal position may vary.