5 Things All Businesses Need to Know About Trademarks
Although trademark registration isn’t compulsory, when you own a business, it’s highly recommended that you register a trademark. Trademarks are signs which can distinguish your goods and services, and they can be made up of words, logos or both combined. The trademark you register can help you to safeguard the integrity of your brand and prevent unjust competition from businesses which use your distinctive image in bad faith. Once you have registered your trademark, it will be yours for 10 years from the date it was filed, you then have the opportunity to renew the trademark if it’s still required.
You might not know much about trademarks when you first start a new business, and it can be easy to overlook their importance. To help anyone considering registering a trademark, below we have listed 5 things we think all business owners should know about trademarks.
Trademarks are registered on a first come first served basis
It’s key to be aware that all trademarks are registered on a first come first served basis and therefore, if another company has the same or a similar trademark to you, you may have to make some changes to your branding, which can include having to rebrand entirely. Therefore checking whether your trademark conflicts with an existing one is very important. To avoid problems with trademark registration, we strongly recommend that you do a trademark search before you settle on a name and logo for your business, or invest in stock or packaging. A search will bring to your attention earlier competing businesses who already have trademarks registered.
You should also ensure that you register your trademark as soon as possible. Ideally, this should be one of the first things you do when you start a new business, and it can help you to protect your brand from the outset. The time, effort and costs involved with a trademark application are always worthwhile, and you need to be aware that the trademark registration process takes some months – in fact, a minimum of 3 months in the UK and 6 – 9 months in the EU as examples. Therefore, registering your trademark is something you will thank yourself for doing in the long run.
Trademarks and copyright aren’t the same
This is one of the biggest misconceptions about trademarks and its key to be aware that even though copyright and trademarks are both forms of intellectual property, they have different legal functions. Often, copyright doesn’t provide the protection business owners think and simply put, copyright is inherent in written and art works, although it does not protect a name. There is no copyright register in the UK/EU and people often think their business is automatically protected – when often it is not.
Registering a trademark is the best way to protect your brand and when you have a registered trademark, you will be able to take action to prevent unauthorised use of your name, logo and colours used in your brand in the countries where you have registered your trademark. A trademark distinguishes your goods and services from those of competitors, it is a badge of origin and often provides assurance of the quality of goods and services. Ultimately, a trademark legally protects your brand.
UK trademarks don’t provide protection in other countries
When you register a UK trademark, your rights will only be protected in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. This is ideal if you only trade in the UK, however, if you trade in the EU or even further afield, you are likely to require additional trademarks.
Your trademark only protects your rights in the country of the Intellectual Property Office your trademark is registered with. So, if you operate in the EU, for example, you should also register an EU trademark to ensure you have the protection you need in the 27 member countries of the EU. This additional trademark can provide peace of mind as it enables you to take action to prevent competitors in other countries from adopting or trying to register a competing EU or national mark that’s the same as or similar to yours.
There are lots of different trademark classes
Many people don’t realise that all trademarks have to be categorised to specifically cover the goods or services they will be used for. Sometimes people ask us if they can just have a trademark to cover everything and the answer is no. There are currently 45 different trademark classes. These classes cover every possible product and service imaginable, and when you make a trademark application, you need to select all of the classes that fit your goods and services to ensure that your business will be correctly protected and we ultimately will draft the correct description of our clients goods and services as part of our fixed filing fees in the UK and EU.
Two businesses can have the same or similar trademarks if they are in different trademark classes and there is no overlap in their goods or services. So, it’s essential to register your trademark in the right classes and if you’re not sure which classes you should be selecting, you should get some professional advice before making your trademark application.
You can get an expert trademark review
Registering a trademark can be a straightforward process, but if you don’t know much about trademarks and you attempt to do your own application, there is a high chance that something will go wrong. It’s advisable to get an expert trademark review before you register your trademark, and here at Trademark Eagle, we provide professional support to make the process as simple and straightforward as possible.
Trademark Eagle offers an expert trademark review which will assess how likely your trademark application is to be accepted by the Registry as trademarks have to comply with the current law. We also check to see if there are similar trademarks that might be a bar to use, and registration of your application and we report this to you in a written document which we then discuss with you. Ultimately, Trademark Eagle can prevent you from wasting a lot of money and time making applications for trademarks that may not succeed.
Getting some trademark advice in the UK
Hopefully, the information above will be useful if you don’t know much about trademarks, and it will have given you an insight into why it’s so important to register a trademark. If you need some assistance registering a trademark in the UK, EU or even internationally, don’t hesitate to contact us at Trademark Eagle. We have years of experience assisting business owners and we can provide you with the comprehensive assistance you need when registering a trademark. We currently look after over 4,000 UK trademarks and about 1000 EU marks as well as others elsewhere in the world. Feel free to explore our website today to find out more about how we can help you and do contact us by phone on 01223 208624, live chat or email firstname.lastname@example.org