What is a trade mark?

LogosWords, logos, sounds, colours and smells – there’s a surprising scope to what can be registered as a trade mark to allow a brand to protect its identity and differentiate from competitors.

In all successful businesses a great deal of time and money is invested in developing and marketing a product or service. You naturally wish the public to recognise that product or service as yours and yours alone. Trade marks are used as an important way of identifying products or services - and building goodwill and loyalty among customers.

A trade mark allows consumers to identify a product or service you are selling is yours, by registering a trade mark you gain exclusive rights and prevent others from using a similar mark in relation to similar goods and services.

The most common trade marks are words or logos - however, more non-conventional trade marks such as sounds, colours and shapes can, in certain circumstances, be registered as trade marks too.

The longer a trade mark is used to identify goods and services, the stronger and more valuable brand can become. In some cases, trade marks are the most valuable assets of a business. Famous trade marks such as those owned by Apple, Google and Coca-Cola are instantly recognisable on a worldwide scale because they have become so synonymous with the brands.

In the UK, trade marks are registered on a first to file basis. Therefore, until a mark is registered it would be necessary to rely on unregistered rights and goodwill. Therefore, it is important to seek the registration of trade marks as part of a product or service launch, preferably as soon as possible during that process. It is crucial to register and use a trade mark correctly, to enable it to become a key intellectual property asset.

Whether you are just starting in business or already in the marketplace you may not be aware of the importance of trade marks to your business success. It is important to seek the advice of a professional, not just to help you file a trade mark registration - checks to avoid infringing an existing registration, challenging infringers and renewals are a vital part of the process.

A list of trade mark attorney firms that can advise and assist you with protecting trade marks and avoiding infringement as well as other trade mark related matters can be found on our website here.

Further, members of CITMA offer a regular clinic where you can get free advice from fully qualified professionals. 

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