Can a trade mark expire?
What is a trade mark?
In a competitive marketplace, an effective trade mark can be invaluable to a company in differentiating its goods and service and giving it an edge over its rivals.
Trade marks include a range of items including logos, advertising jingles and slogans, and the design and shape of a product.
Are trade marks protected by law?
Given the number of resources that can go in to creating a trade mark, it is important there is legal protection to prevent unscrupulous individuals or organisations from encroaching upon it and benefiting from the original company’s enterprise.
In the UK, this protection comes from the Trade Marks Act 1994 which enables businesses to take legal action against anyone who uses their trade mark without permission.
To effectively benefit from this safeguard, a trade mark should be registered with the Intellectual Property Office.
Do trade marks expire?
Countries around the world have different laws relating to registered trade marks expiring, and so it is important to take expert advice over the situation in the country in which your mark applies.
Do trade marks expire UK?
Under UK law, a registered trade mark must be renewed every 10 years to remain effective.
Failing to renew a trade mark could have adverse consequences for a company if, for example, it has been planning future strategies on the basis that the trade mark will still be legally protected.
A renewal application can be made online or by post within six months either side of the due date although there are penalties for late renewal.
The cost is £200 for the first category of goods or services that the registration applies to and £50 for each additional category.
There is an additional £50 charge for applications made in the six-month period following the expiry date.
What happens if I don’t renew my trade mark in time?
Should the renewal application not be made within six months of the expiry date, it may still be possible to restore the trade mark up to 12 months after it has expired although due cause for non-renewal will have to be submitted and considered by the Registry after 6 months and the fees increase.
Applications submitted during this period must be made by post and include a written statement explaining the reason for the delay.
The application will only be approved if the Intellectual Property Office accepts that you have a valid reason for the late request while £100 of your fee will not be refunded should the application be rejected.
How to know if your trade mark is up for renewal
Companies are responsible for ensuring that they make their application for a trade mark renewal on time.
This may be a particularly onerous task for large organisations that hold many trade marks but, given the importance of maintaining the protection of the trade mark, it is vital that businesses keep meticulous records of registrations and their renewal dates.
While the law does provide the safety net of applying after the renewal date, applying beforehand is advisable.
Many companies choose to enjoy the peace of mind that comes from working with Trademark Eagle to ensure that their trade marks are renewed on time.
What should I do if I don’t renew my trade mark on time?
Should you not renew your trade mark within the periods outlined above, it may be considered an ‘abandoned’ or ‘dead’ trade mark and you would to re-apply to gain protection again.
This could give a rival organisation the chance to register the trade mark itself, although it would depend on a range of factors (such as the amount of time that has passed since the renewal date. Even if you have been using a trade mark and have failed to renew it, a rival can still register it without your knowledge which can lead to a myriad of problems.
In these circumstances it is highly advisable to seek expert help to determine your options.
How else could I lose my trade mark?
Even within the 10-year period, it is possible for another organisation to apply to have your trade mark cancelled or revoked.
The business could ask for its request to apply to the entire registration or just to specific categories of goods and services.
It could make its application on a number of grounds:
An application could be made if the trade mark has not been used for a continuous period of five years after its registration – assuming that the owner of the trade mark did not have a valid reason (which it can prove) for not using it.
Generic trade marks
An organisation could argue that since you obtained the trade mark it has become the generic name for the goods and services to which the registration applies.
Misleading trade marks
There could also be an application to revoke a trade mark on the grounds that it misleads the public over the goods and services to which it applies – for example, as regards quality or geographic origin.
Should a rival organisation be attempting to cancel or revoke your trade mark it may be advisable to try and reach an amicable settlement with them to avoid the potentially large expense of taking the case to a tribunal.
Where can I get help renewing my trade mark?
While it may be difficult to quantify the exact value of a trade mark, there is no doubt that in some cases they may play a huge role in a company’s success and prosperity.
It is vital to protect them, therefore, and the most effective way to do this is to call upon the help of experts.
Trademark Eagle’s team has a successful track record of helping businesses to continue enjoying the benefits of trade marks that they have created with their enterprise and commitment.
Renowned for providing the highest levels of customer service we will take the time to get to know your company so that we can provide the tailor-made advice and guidance that you require.
All our team work with integrity and professionalism at all times and will be delighted to outline the ways in which we can help you.
Please get in touch for more information:
Call: 01223 208 624
Or complete our online contact form