For most SMEs, all or part of the goodwill of the business will be held in the business name or brand logo. It stands to reason therefore that the goodwill is worth protecting. Subject to meeting certain criteria, a business name, logo, strapline or slogan could be protected via registration as a UK trade mark.
What is a trade mark?
A trade mark is commonly referred to as a badge of origin that is used to distinguish the goods and services offered by one trader from those offered by another. They can be words, logos, symbols or any combination of the same. Although there are many kinds of intellectual property rights, such as copyright and patents, trade marks are often useful for SMEs as they provide the owner with a registered right. As a registered right (one that is recorded in a public register) the owner is granted exclusivity to use their trade mark in the categories of goods and services applied for.
Why apply for a trade mark?
It is a common misconception that trade marks are only relevant for large businesses. It is also a common misconception that just because a business has formed a limited company or purchased a domain name, they don’t need a trade mark.
Whilst unregistered rights may exist in a trading name or logo, the ability to enforce unregistered rights against infringing parties is generally much simpler with the benefit of a registered trade mark.
A trade mark is also an intellectual property right which can be transferred, for example on the sale of a business or licensed for others to use, for example when franchising or setting up a small network.
A registered trademark may also appeal to a business owner as a sign they are a professional outfit. Once registered the owner can utilise the ® symbol with their trade mark to show the outside world the brand is officially registered.
Registering your trade mark
Providing the subject of the application meets the requirements for registration and does not infringe an existing registered trademark, the process usually takes between 3 – 4 months to complete.
The application fees are set by the Intellectual Property Office and start at £170 for a single application.
Apply to register a trade mark on the UK Government website. There’s a guide available with the most up-to-date information, and you should check this before proceeding.
There is no requirement to use a solicitor when applying for a trade mark but once the application is made, unless the right start process is used, there will not be any scope to amend or add to the application within the initial fee.
How AMD Solicitors can help
AMD Solicitors are commercial solicitors in Bristol who assist SME business owners with trade mark registration and intellectual property rights protection. For further advice and information, please speak to a member of our experienced company and commercial law team today on 0117 973 3989. Alternatively, please fill in our contact form and a member of our team will be in touch.