Trade Marks

What is your commercial reputation worth?

For many businesses, reputation is the most valuable of all business assets. What the public sees is your trade marks – the names and logos that you use on your goods – and recognises them as being an indication of the quality that they can expect from your products or services.

If another competing business uses one of your trade marks, or one so similar that consumers are confused into thinking that it is yours, you suffer twice.

You can lose customers to your competitor because consumers think that they are buying from you. Your competitor is trading off your reputation.

You can lose hard-earned reputation because you have no control over the quality of your competitor’s products. If their quality is poor, the public might be misled into thinking that your quality is poor.

Register It!

A trade mark registration gives you wide-ranging exclusive rights to stop others using identical or similar marks within your field of business. You can protect your mark for ten years (renewable indefinitely for a further fee) for just a few hundred pounds.

I don’t need to register to protect myself — do I?

You can get some protection for your trade mark merely by using it. However, this protection is not as strong as that afforded by registration, it takes time to acquire, and is costlier to enforce. Most importantly, other people carrying out searches cannot readily find out that it is already in use.

Beware YOU don’t infringe

Before you adopt a new mark, always search. If you don’t search, and it turns out later that you are infringing someone else’s rights, you will most likely have to stop using the mark immediately. Not only will you have then lost the value in any packaging and printed materials, the value of your advertising will also be lost. You will also have to change your mark, and this could cause you public embarrassment. At worst, you may have to pay damages to the owner of the infringed registration.

A professionally conducted and analysed search is likely to cost between £250 and £350. This is a small price in comparison with the amount invested in launching most new trade marks.

Also, do some research within the trade to look for any similar marks already in use in your broad field of business. Trade directories and the world-wide web are a good place to start. If you find nothing, then get the mark searched professionally.

Help and Guidance

I am always happy to advise on the availability for use and registrability of any trade mark. If you are having trouble finding a trade mark, I can often give some pointers that may help guide you towards the type of mark which is likely to be registrable and protectable.

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