Our commercial solicitors are specialists when it comes to intellectual property so they are often asked “What is a trade mark?” “Why do I need a trade mark?” and “How do I get a trade mark?”.
In this blog they answer some of the most common queries about trade marks.
What Is A Trade Mark?
Some people think of a trade mark as a logo, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it can be a logo, a word, an image, or a name.
By name, we mean the word(s) only, regardless of font or design. A trade mark can also be a combination of words and images.
A trade mark sets a business, its products, or its services, apart from their competitors by making them recognisable and unique.
What Does A Name Or Logo Need To Qualify As A Trade Mark?
A trade mark needs to be unique. It should be unique within the field of products and services you provide. It needs to make your business distinctive.
There is another important consideration. A trade mark is not supposed to describe the goods or services on offer, or describe qualities of the goods or their place of origin.
For example, if you had a business selling French cheese and called it ‘French Cheeses’, with a map of France behind it, this would not be distinctive enough to qualify for a registered trade mark.
What Else Isn’t Allowed?
Any words or images that have become customary within your market are not likely to be allowed as a trade mark.
So, if you went into business as a barber and wanted to register the classic red and white barbershop sign as your trade mark, you would not be allowed because this sign is a visual image that has become customary within that industry.
Three dimensional shapes aren’t allowed either if they are typical of the goods you are supplying. Therefore, if you are selling spanners, a three dimensional spanner won’t be eligible for trade mark status.
Other attributes that disqualify a potential trade mark include being offensive, inciting or promoting something illegal, and being deceptive about the product sold.
The Best Approach: Invent Something New
A business or product name that combines elements of other words or names is often the best way to create something original.
If you have more than one word in the name, then not all the words need be original.
For example, if a firm of solicitors wanted to call itself ‘Legal Solicitors’, it would not be able to register that as a trade mark because both words are not unique. They also refer directly to the service on offer. However, if a company was called ‘Blue Solicitors’ this would be allowed as long as no one else already had the name.
Why Do I Need A Registered Trade Mark?
At Else, our commercial solicitors in Burton upon Trent strongly recommend that you register your trade mark.
Your trade mark can be your most valuable asset and therefore needs proper protection. It is an essential marketing tool and enables your customers to instantly recognise your products or services.
By registering your trade mark you give your business the exclusive right to use it in the territories that you operate in. You can register it for individual countries or internationally.
Registering a trade mark enables a business to take action if a third party tries to use it. Businesses can also use a registered trade marks as a revenue generating tool. You can license your trade mark to others for use or sell it out right.
When your trade mark is registered, you are allowed to put the (R) logo next to it to show this fact.
This alone can deter others from copying it or using it without your consent.
If you would like more information and advice about trade marks, please contact our specialist corporate and commercial solicitors in Burton on Trent, on 01283 526200. Alternatively, you can send us a message and we will get in touch at a time that suits you.