Trade marks, also known as 'trademarks' in mainland Europe or the US, play a significant role in almost every business. Whether you realise it or not, if you have customers then you have a brand. Every name, logo, strapline or other way a customer identifies your goods or services is a trade mark.
While unregistered trade mark rights exist automatically, registered rights are much stronger. With a registered trade mark you are given the exclusive right to make use of the mark for the goods or services you offer.
Having a registered trade mark allows you to use the ® symbol. This acts as a deterrent against infringement and can also show the marketplace that you are committed to your brand, proud of it and will take steps to protect it. There has been a definite increase in consumer confusion on the internet in recent years and brands which would never have come into contact with each other previously now do because search engine optimisation, adwords etc., all of which emphasises the importance of registered trade mark protection.
You register trade marks in the specific countries or territories in which you trade: trade marks are jurisdictional. They are registered with the relevant appointed government body. In the UK it is the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).
Depending on the territories you operate in, or plan to operate in, our Trade Mark Agency can offer advice on the best filing strategy for your brand. Broadly, we can assist with making a national application, offering trade mark protection in a single state (for example the UK, the US, Japan and so on). Alternatively, the EU operates a single trade mark which offers protection in all 28 Member States in a single registration. If you trade further afield, WIPO (the World Intellectual Property Office) administers an ‘International Trademark’. This is not a single trade mark as the name suggests but rather a ‘bundle’ of national rights, a facility that enables you to submit trade mark applications to many countries at the same time. Our Trade Mark Agency can advise on the best registration route for your business.
First, you need to make sure your trade mark qualifies as a trade mark. For example, it must be distinctive, it cannot be misleading, offensive or too common and non-distinctive. Then it is a good idea to carry out a search of the trade mark database to check if your mark or something similar is already registered.
At Thorntons Trade Mark Agency, we can carry out trade mark searches for you to help to identify any potential hurdles to a successful registration. We can offer you advice to help manage and reduce risk, giving you the best chance of securing a registration for your trade mark.
There are 45 different trade mark classes, which group together similar goods or services. It is important you choose the right class or classes for your application and that you bear in mind areas you may plan to expand your business into. Otherwise, you may need to do a second application later to cover the new goods.
Our Trade Mark Solicitors can advise you on the right classes for your trade mark and handle the application for you if you wish.
It takes about four months in the UK if no one objects to your application. The process varies in different countries, with EU approximately six to nine months and in the US 12 to 18 months. Our Trade Mark Agency team can advise you of registration timescales in the areas you are interested in.
Your trade mark registration lasts for 10 years. You can then renew it for a further 10 years. It can be renewed for 10-year periods as many times as you or your business needs.
A trade mark is a sign or similar used to distinguish your business and products or services from your competitors. It can be words, a logo or a mix, as well as in some cases, colours, shapes and sounds.
Whereas copyright gives the author of a work, such as a book, music, play or film, specific rights in relation to the work and allows the author to take legal action against any plagiarism or infringement.
If you are seeking protection for an invention, you may well want to apply for a patent, which will prevent others making or selling the invention. This is different from a trade mark, which is any sign which allows customers (or potential customers) to identify your business and your products and services. It usually comprises words, a logo or a mix.
We work with a trusted network of patent attorneys who can assist in the drafting and filing of a patent for you. We can work with you on your commercial strategy, as well as assisting with the commercialisation contracts including patent licence agreements and distribution agreements.
In the UK, the Intellectual Property Office charges (in 2021) £170 for the first class application plus £50 for each additional class.
In Europe, the EUIPO charges 850euro for the first class application, an additional 50euro for the second class and 150euro for the third class and every additional class thereafter.
If you engage us to help with your registration application we will set out our fees and likely extra costs for you at the start and keep you informed of any possible changes as your application progresses.
Call us on 03330 430 350 to find out more about our registration services or to start a registration application. Or make an enquiry online and one of our Trade Mark Agency team will contact you.
Our team of experts have experience in drafting trade mark applications in a wide variety of sectors, including education, hospitality, software, food and drink, technology and land estates, and for territories across the world. From understanding your business and your commercial priorities, we draft trade mark applications which protect your business and strike the right balance between precision and general protection, capturing your current offering as well as future opportunities.
We work with you to agree a trade mark specification and can process the application for you right the way through to registration.