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Trade Mark FAQs

Trade Mark FAQs

Intellectual Property Lawyers

Trade Marks - Frequently Asked Questions

Disclaimer: The answers to the below FAQs are intended to provide a guide to some of the common trade mark queries that we receive. The answers do not in any way constitute legal advice and are not intended to be a substitute for obtaining legal advice. There are many exceptions to the answers given in these questions and these will depend on the facts of an individual matter. We recommend that you seek legal advice if you are unsure about anything.

What is a trade mark?

A trade mark is a sign which is used to differentiate the goods or services of one trader from another. It is a 'badge of origin'. Names, logos, straplines and even colours and smells are capable of being registered as trade marks.

What is the difference between a trade mark and copyright?

A trade mark designates the commercial origin of a product or service, whereas copyright protects expressions of originality, for example in the form of literary, artistic or musical works. Copyright will arise automatically in the UK when conditions for protection are met, whereas trade mark registration must be proactively sought. It is possible for both trade mark rights and copyright to exist together, for example in a logo.

I've registered my business name on companies house. Do I now have protection for this name?

No. It is a common misconception that registering a company name at Companies House also provides trade mark protection and protects the company name and reputation from infringers. For more information, please see our previous article Is Your Company Name Properly Trade Mark Protected?

When should I register my trade mark?

As soon as possible (even before you start using it).

Someone is using my registered trade mark, what should I do?

Before you do or say anything to the alleged infringer you should seek legal advice, as there are laws that mean you could end up being sued.

How can I check whether someone else is already using the trade mark I want to register?

You can instruct a professional (eg a lawyer) to conduct formal trade mark searches. You can also carry out informal searches on Google or using the UKIPO trade mark search facility.

How long does it take to register a trade mark?

  • In the UK it can take around 3-6 months from the filing date of your application for it to mature to registration, assuming that no issues or oppositions are raised.

Can I protect my trade mark in every country in the world in one application?

There is no single global trade mark application scheme that enables you to register a trade mark in every territory in the world. Trade mark protection is territorial and must be effected on a territory by territory basis. Although there are international treatises that can help to streamline the application process in member territories (and assist in keeping costs proportionate), you still need to select the individual territories in which you wish to seek protection.

Should I use the ® or the ™ symbol?

You should only use the ® symbol if your trade mark is registered. You can use the ™ symbol on unregistered trade marks.

Do I need a lawyer to file my application, or can I do it myself?

It is possible to file a trade mark application without using a lawyer. However, using a lawyer (or, as a minimum, seeking legal advice on the key elements of the application) will help to ensure that the trade mark application is filed correctly, avoids the common pitfalls of DIY applications, and can even minimise the risk of potential issues (and additional costs) arising during the application process.

Seeking legal assistance will also ensure that the trade mark itself is protected in the form that gives you the widest protection, and that the application is future-proof, saving you money in the long run. We are experts in protecting trade marks - in delegating your trade mark protection to us, you are taking advantage of our skills so that you can focus on growing your business and the tasks at which you excel.

In which territories should I protect my trade mark?

You should protect your trade marks in the territories in which you operate.

How long will my trade mark registration last for?

10 years. In the UK (and many international territories), this period is calculated from the filing date of the application, whereas in some territories the 10 year period is calculated from the registration date.

Are there any restrictions on what sort of trade mark can be registered?

There are many restrictions on what can and cannot be registered as a trade mark. For example, your trade mark should not describe the goods or services for which it will be used (eg the word 'soap' cannot be registered as a trade mark in relation to soap), nor should your trade mark be misleading or offensive. For more information on restrictions please visit the UK Intellectual Property Office website. We can provide registrability advice if you are unsure whether your trade mark can be protected.

What do your fees include?

We offer fixed fees for trade mark applications. Our fees cover all professional and registry fees for the whole application process: from the preparation and filing of your trade mark application through to registration (providing everything runs smoothly and no one objects to the registration of the trade mark). Our charges are transparent with no hidden extras.

I have registered my domain name. Should I protect it as a trade mark?

Yes - if the domain name incorporates your business, trading or product name we recommend that you protect your domain name as a trade mark.

For legal advice from experienced trade mark lawyers, please contact Doug Locke on 0117 314 5602, or complete the form below.

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Paula Williams - Chartered Trade Mark Attorney & Solicitor in Bristol - VWV

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