What is a trade mark?
A trade mark is typically a word, symbol or logo used in trade in relation to that trade. Passing off protects unregistered trade marks but is difficult to enforce. A Community Trade Mark (CTM) is a trade mark that applies to the entirety of the European Union (EU) as opposed to being applied for and registered at the national level.
A registered trade mark:
Trade marks can be registered in one of 50 classes of goods or services and prevent others using the same or similar mark in relation to the same or similar goods or services, where there is a likelihood of confusion. Unlike registered designs and patents, trade mark protection lasts indefinitely and can be applied for even after publication or appearing on the market.
Why register a trade mark?
The potential of trade marking a logo or name is often overlooked and should definitely be considered when developing a new product.
Some reasons for trade mark protection:
- Suite of IP: Registering your trade mark adds to the range of protection that you have available.
- Commercial: A number of commercial reasons, such as credibility. It may be possible to license or assign parts of your suite and/or markets. Resolves any queries over whether you can use your trade mark early.
- Grace Periods: If you register in the UK (ideally before you go on sale in any markets) you are able to extend protection within 6 months to other markets if necessary.
- IP: You are only protecting your branding so therefore this is easy to obtain and enforce, should the trade mark be replicated.
- UK marks cover the UK, for 10 years, renewable indefinitely.
For more information about trade marks in the UK and abroad please follow this link: https://www.gov.uk/topic/intellectual-property/trade-marks
Important UK trade mark application information
Trade mark applications can be rejected for various reasons so you need to make sure in particular that your trade mark is distinctive and not descriptive of what you plan to use it for.
Some companies will protect all letters and numbers in a certain font so that no one else can imitate their logo ie. Mars
You cannot often protect a descriptive logo or slogan.
Companies may be notified if your application is similar to their own. Your application will also be published in the Trade Marks Journal. Anyone can oppose a trade mark application but if no one does it will be registered in about 3 months form filing.
How much will a trademark cost?
The UK application fee for trade mark registrations is approximately £200
The CTM application fee is approximately €900
If you need to to conduct a CTM or a UK trademark search, or if you would like assistance with the application, these services and be provided at an additional cost.
How do I apply for a trade mark or community trade mark (CTM)?
You can apply for a UK trade mark at the UK Intellectual Property Office
You can also now apply online to the UK IPO
To apply for a CTM you must complete and send the relevant forms to the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) in Alicante, Spain. You must also pay the application fee NB. OHIM do not accept cheques.
You can also now apply online for a Community Registered Design through the OHIM website.
How to register a trade mark, with help from Innovate Design
Innovate can help design your logo in order to trade mark your company or product name and establish branding.
Innovate also provide a trade mark searching service, where needed, to help identify and create a unique logo.