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What is a Trademark and why is it important for your business?

A trademark is a symbol used to identify the products or services of a company. As a whole, it is a valuable business asset that must be protected from those attempting to use it to sell their products and services. Trademarks are used to identify the source of a product. The Trade Marks Act 1994, as amended by subsequent legislation, and, most recently, The Trade Marks Regulations 2018, which took effect on January 14, 2019, govern trademarks in the United Kingdom.

The difference between Unregistered and Registered Trademark

Unregistered or registered trademarks are both possible. If registered, the symbol or sequence of words cannot be used by any other entity for the rest of the time, as long as it is in use and all necessary paperwork and fees are charged. A registration is valid for ten years and can be extended at any time.


Unregistered trademarks are those that are not licenced with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) but are also used to distinguish the products or services of a company. It is possible to prevent anyone from using a trademark that is identical or equivalent to an actual registered or unregistered trademark (known as "passing off"), but it is more difficult to prove this with an unregistered trademark. The applicant with an unregistered trademark must show that they hold the trademark for the relevant products and services. They've built up a reputation associated with the trademark and have been affected in any manner as a result of that person's use.


Types of Trademarks

There are three signs of Trademark: ® ‘™’ and ‘SM’. A registered trademark indicated by the symbol ® after the name. The use of the trademark ‘™’ after a logo or phrase will inform the contestants that you have ownership of the symbol or phrase, so you don’t have to make a formal request. The third type of trademark is ‘SM’ companies that sell services instead of products may choose to use the service brand logo, but for simplicity, most companies use ‘™’.


Why Trademarks are Important for Businesses

Although it is not necessary by legislation, registering the company's name as a trademark is a good idea. If any company wants to use the same or similar name, you will be able to take legal action to stop them. A trademarked brand identifies all of your products and services as being yours alone, as well as protecting you from counterfeit goods.


The owner of a trademark provides three main advantages after it is granted: a notice of claim to all other companies considering using the same symbol or term as its trademark, a legitimate presumption of ownership, which may help fend off would-be consumers, and the exclusive right to use the asserted trademark.


How to register a trademark

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) maintains a trademark registry, and users can access the IPO's database online. If you want European-wide rights, the Community Trade Marks Office, also known as OHIM.


When deciding on a business or company name, and before filing an application to register a trademark, a review of this database should be performed. It is recommended that you conduct a free trademark search to ensure that the mark you are considering is available. If the quest finds no marks that are identical or similar, consider whether the trademark is distinctive. This should reveal whether or not there is an actual registered trademark for the same class of products or services that is identical to or too similar to the proposed name. If no match is found during the search, the IPO will not recognise the trademark as not being identical to or too close to an established trademark.


While trademarking your company is not required by law, there are numerous advantages to doing so. Please contact Persona Finance (enquiries@personafinance.co.uk) if you have any additional questions or would like to register a trademark.

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