Why Trade Marks Are Important

Date Added 06.12.17

In this article we are pleased to provide you with a guest article from Vicki Bennet at Dollymores, explaining the importance of protecting your brand with a trade mark:

Whatever line of business you are in, you need consumers to be able to tell your business or the products you provide, or the services you offer apart from those of your competitors.  How do you do this?  You operate that business under, or attach to those products or services, a name or logo.  This is your brand, your trade mark.

It is important when selecting your trade mark, that you choose something memorable.  That way your consumers can easily recall your product or service, tell it apart from your competitors and also recommend it to others.

Acceptable Trade Marks

In our experience a number of business owners, initially create a trade mark that describes the products or services they offer.  These type of trade marks are hard to protect and even harder to enforce against third parties.  This is because the UK Intellectual Property Office, and Intellectual Property Offices overseas, will not accept descriptive marks as this would provide the trade mark owner with an unfair monopoly in a word that should be left free for other traders to be able to use legitimately in connection with their business.  By way of example BOUNCE, would not be acceptable for balls as it is descriptive as to the nature and characteristic of the product that it is used upon.  It is a word that should be available to all manufacturers of balls to use when describing what their product does. BOUNCE however could be used in respect of drinks, as it in no way describes the characteristics or nature of a drink.

Invented words, or words that do not describe the nature or purpose of your product, are the best.   Think of marks such as KODAK, BLACKBERRY and LEGO.  They do not describe the products they are used upon, but through clever marketing consumers know the products available and the ongoing quality attached to those products.  Your trade mark enables consumers to recognise and purchase your products, or services, due to the ongoing quality they associate with it.

Avoiding Infringement

Once you have chosen your trade mark, it is then important that a trade mark search is conducted.  This is to ensure that your trade mark is not too similar to existing registered trade marks belonging to others which would result in consumers not being able to identify whose product is whose.  It is extremely important to check that your trade mark is not infringing another’s prior to investing in websites, promotional literature, signage and packaging.  Imagine the scenario of launching your product under the trade mark and then being threatened with court proceedings because your trade mark infringes another party’s.

Filing a Trade Mark Application

So you have created your memorable and distinctive trade mark, checked it is free to use, the next step is to secure that right by filing a trade mark application at the Intellectual Property Office in the country you propose to operate your business, or make your products or services available.  Securing your trade mark rights through registration is the strongest protection you can obtain.  It puts you in a position to prevent a competitor or counterfeiter from stealing your custom and damaging your good reputation through using your trade mark, or a trade mark similar to it.

The average cost of obtaining a trade mark registration in the United Kingdom is £700.  The trade mark registration runs for ten years and can be renewed for further ten-year periods.  Broken down that is a cost of £70 per year to protect one of the most important assets of your business.

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