Trade Marks

Trade mark registration protects your unique brand names and logos. Trade marks are words, phrases, letters, numerals or logos that distinguish products or services your business provides from your competitors. It not only helps your customers recognise your products or services but also prevents competitors from using identical or similar marks that might confuse customers as to who the supplier is. In contrast to patents, trade marks are renewable indefinitely upon payment of renewal fees within a prescribed period.

A registered trade mark

  • prevents third parties selecting or using an identical/similar marks that are likely to confuse customers as to the source of goods/services;
  • provides an easier and cheaper way to enforce than an unregistered mark; and
  • helps resolving domain name disputes.

How to Register a Trade Mark 

A mark has to be distinctive in order for it to be registerable as for a trade mark. In many cases, a word mark would be better compared to a graphical or figurative mark, because it has broader scope not just limited to a particular graphical representation. 

A trade mark can not be registered, for example, if the mark is non-distinctive or made in bad faith or the mark would be likely to cause confusion.

Typically, prior to submitting an application, a trade mark search is recommended to check marks that may be similar to yours for the same or similar goods/services.

An application for trademark registration should indicate the mark and specify goods/services it relates to. Upon submission, a substantive examination will be carried out by the Trademarks Registry to check if the application meets the criteria for registration. In the UK, the examination stage can take up to 2 months.

If no objections are made by the Registry, your trademark application will be published in the Trade Mark Journal for UK trademark registration (or the Community Trade Mark Bulletin for European trademark registration). At this stage, any person who believes the trade mark applied for should not be registered can file a notice of opposition within a period of 2 to 3 months from publication in the journal of acceptance. The grounds of opposition are based on entitlement, eligibility and other issues.

If, within the opposition period, no oppositions are filed or the application is not successfully opposed in its entirety, then the application will proceed to grant and a certification of registration will be issued. Like patents, trade mark registration gives you an exclusive right to commercialise the registered trade mark for the specified goods/services and bring action against anyone who has used your registered trade mark without your permission on competing or related goods/services.

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