Company Trade Marks
21 June 2019
For companies doing business in the UK, it is important to think about what intellectual property you own. Intellectual property can be a very valuable asset and so it is important to think about what steps you can take to protect it. Most, if not all businesses will use a trade mark of some kind and even if you have a registered trade mark in one country you should make sure that it is protected in all countries in which you do business.
What is a trade mark?
A trade mark is a sign (such as a name, logo or brand) which enables customers to identify the source of goods or services and which can be represented graphically. This not only includes words and logos but it can also include other signs such as shapes, colours and images.
Why should you register a trade mark?
Registering a trade mark gives you the exclusive right to use the mark in relation to the goods or services for which it is registered. If your mark is used by anyone else without your permission, it is easier and less costly to enforce your rights than if the mark was not registered. In addition, it is usual for businesses to undertake searches of the trade mark register before they start using a new brand or name and so they will be alerted to registered marks. This means that it is less likely that your mark will be infringed.
Should a trade mark be registered in the UK or the EU?
It is very important to think about the territories you will register your trade mark in as you will only have protection in territories in which your mark is registered. You should consider which jurisdictions you currently use your trade mark in and where you are likely to use it in the future. This includes not only your own use but also where you intend to assign or licence rights to third parties. If you plan to use your trade mark in the UK and elsewhere in the EU, a single EU trade mark will cover all EU member states.
How do you register a trade mark?
Before an application is made to register your mark, it is necessary to consider if the mark is capable of registration and also whether registration may infringe another party’s intellectual property rights. This involves undertaking a review of the mark to make sure that, for example, it is distinctive and that it is not just a description of the goods and services to which it relates. Detailed clearance searches and reviews of registers will also have to be done.
An application can then be made to register the mark and you will have to identify which classes to use – this means identifying the goods and services you wish to use the mark for.
When should you register a trade mark and how long will it take to complete the registration?
A mark can be registered as soon as you have an actual intention to use the mark - the sooner the mark is registered, the sooner you will have protection. If there are no objections, registration can be completed within four months but if objections are raised it can take up to 12 months (and sometimes longer in certain cases) to register the mark.
If you would like further advice in relation to this issue or further information about our services please contact our 3HR Commercial Law team which can advise accordingly.
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