What is a Trademark and Does Your Business Need One?

By Steven Mather

Well, actually every company has a trademark the question is do you need to protect your trademark by registering. 

Yes every company has a trademark – whether you are “Joe Bloggs Builders” or “Azansti” (I made the last one up) your business name is a form of trademark – it’s the way your customers find your business and what makes it stands out from the crowd. 

A trademark can also be a logo, like the nike swoosh, or a slogan or motto – “Should have gone to specsavers” is a good one. 

Whether you need to protect your trademark comes down to this question – do you want to be able to stop other people from using your trade mark and would other companies using it cause confusion. 

Not everything can be trademarked mind. For something to be trademarkable, it needs to be unique, novel and not descriptive – so you couldn’t trademark “The Fish and Chip Shop”  as it is not novel and it is descriptive. 

If your company is based around your brand, then it is really important to trademark it. You don’t want competitors using it. If you have a great unique product, then again you might want to trademark it so that no one else can call their vacuum cleaners “Hoovers” for example. Oh no wait.. 

Once you’ve realized that you need to protect your trademark, it is a matter of registering it. One misconception is that simply registering a domain name or a limited company at companies house is enough; it isn’t and will not offer you any protection expect you have that name. Someone lese could happily register a similar name and it would be difficult to stop them. 

No, what you need to do is to register your trademark with the Intellectual Property Office, the Government body dealing with trademarks in the UK. If you’re a big expanding brand, then you could also consider European trademarking. 

Registering a trademark is a relatively simple process and can be done online yourself. The important part is working out what classes you want to register your trademark in. Classes cover services and goods, and if you are registered in a particular category you have an absolute right to stop another company using your mark in that category. If you don’t register in a particular class, and someone else does, then you can still stop them but only if their mark is identical to yours, or so similar as to be confusing. 

Trademark registration fees are from just £170 with the IPO.  

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