Trade Mark Basics: What is a co-existence agreement?

A tool that can be used if a dispute arises, a co-existence agreement can save the hassle of taking a dispute through the official routes.
A coexistence agreement is between two or more parties and allows them to use an identical or similar mark for different goods and exist together happily without any disputes.

If you are looking to register a mark that is similar or identical to one that is already registered, then think again.

Without any contact or negotiation with the existing trade mark owner, they will not allow their mark to be infringed.

However if you make it clear that you will only trade in one area and not step into their goods or services, an agreement may be possible.

This is how ‘polo’ is registered by three different companies for confectionary, clothing and motor vehicles.

The UK Intellectual Property Office will not prevent you from registering both but will send a notification to the existing owner when your application is accepted. If a proper agreement has been drawn up, this should not be an issue.

However, this step takes a great deal of thought. You need to be sure that you will never want to expand your business in a way that may slightly compete with the other company. Therefore, a coexistence agreement may not always be the best step for you.

Also not all trade mark owners will be willing to consider an agreement. You can not force them to enter into the agreement with you; the ball is in their court.

It may be more worthwhile looking to change your brand to something more unique.

If you would like to discuss your options to protect your brand, please contact the team today.

Ellis Sweetenham

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