Common questions about trademarks

Whilst trademarks are common terms that we come across on a regular basis it can sometimes be a complex concept to fathom. This article is designed to answer some of the common questions and concepts that may be raised by clients.

What is a Trademark?

A trademark is effectively a form of intellectual property. It can be a unique sign or a mark that individuals or businesses use to identify and set their products or services apart from others. Trademarks can consist of variety of elements such as logos, slogans, shapes, phrases and many more. This is ultimately a great way for brands to construct a strong reputation and increase their consumer group by creating a distinctive brand identity.

Think about the famous Swiss chocolate brand, Toblerone, known and recognised for their triangular prisms shaped chocolate bars. Their three-dimensional shape is a registered trademark, and this is a great example of how brands like Toblerone have created a distinctive brand identity for themselves.

What is a registered Trademark?

This simply means that the trademark is registered with the government, essentially protecting your mark and preventing others from copying it. You are not obliged to register your mark, you can in fact have an unregistered trademark. However, this may place the distinctiveness of your mark at risk, as registering your trademark will enable you to take legal action if a third party uses or creates an identical mark to yours without authorisation.

How long does a registered trade mark last?

It essentially lasts 10 years. However, it must also be renewed every 10 years. Ultimately, you could own a trademark indefinitely if you keep up with the renewals and continue paying the fees.  However, your trademark can be cancelled if it have not used it in the last five years or if you mark ultimately becomes too generic that it could no longer be distinguished amongst other traders’ goods or services.

Which territories should I apply consider the protection of my trademark?

This is all dependent on where you carry out your trade/services. If your customer base is mostly in the United Kingdom then you should consider protecting it here. If your trade does also expand to other territories and you do have a significant customer base in that jurisdiction, then you may want to consider the protection of your mark in those jurisdictions as well.

What is the process/timeline of registering your trademark in the UK?

Firstly, you will need to consider and decide the classes (i.e. goods or services) you wish to register your mark in. Then, check if any third party has that identical mark registered.

Secondly, your application needs to be prepared. In doing so, the following information needs to be included:

  1. Details and information of what you wish to register such as words or slogans
  2. The trade mark classes or terms you want to register

Thirdly, you can then decide which type of application you wish to apply for.

Subsequently, after you apply the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) will examine your application, this should take approximately two weeks. The IPO then will examine whether there are similar trademarks and contact the trademark owner if they find one. Then the IPO will publish your application, and provided that there are no objections within two months, your mark will be registered two weeks later.

When your mark is registered the IPO will:

  • Register your trademark in approximately three months after you apply- if your published mark is not objected or opposed to.
  • Deliver you a certificate to endorse that your trademark has now been registered.

This means that you can then object to other trademarks if you consider that they are identical or similar to your registered mark. You could also now sell, license, market or mortgage your mark.

Lastly, don’t forget to renew your trademark every ten years!

If you have any questions or concerns, get in touch with us today. Our team of experts are always happy to help!

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