Trade Marks & Brands
In a competitive commercial environment it is important that your business stands out. Over time, your business will no doubt have built up customer recognition, loyalty and goodwill which will set it apart from its competitors – and these will be encapsulated in your brand. Registering a trade mark is a relatively cheap and easy way to protect your brand, and your reputation.
Registered trade mark rights protect signs (including logos, words or pictures) that distinguish one trader’s goods/services from those of another. A registered trade mark lasts initially for 10 years, and can be renewed for further 10-year periods indefinitely. Trade marks are registered at a government office called the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), and are registered in relation to particular classes of goods and services: there are currently 45 different classes of goods/services within which you can register a trade mark.
Some people try to protect their trade marks by registering company names or domain names featuring the mark, but unfortunately this gives no protection for the mark itself at all.
Registered trade marks are therefore:
- Key protection for your brand
- Valuable assets in themselves
- Commercially exploitable
- A deterrent to infringers – and legally enforceable against them
- Renewable indefinitely
The in-depth knowledge and many years of experience of our Commercial and Digital team's trade mark lawyers enables us to advise you on all aspects of brand protection and trade marks. We are recognised as a leading firm in this area and we have the depth of knowledge and experience to protect your brand. Please talk to us about:
Trade mark searches
Before you commit any money to launching a product or service, our trade mark solicitors will carry out some initial searches to ascertain whether your trade mark, or something similar to it, has already been registered to others. Most importantly, we then use our experience of having done this kind of work many times before to advise you on what is likely to result in an objection to your application and what is not. Identifying these potential pitfalls early could save you the cost of a failed or contested application; or even having to change your brand after it has launched.
Trade mark registration
We can draft, file and manage your trade mark application. In doing so, our branding lawyers will advise you on whether your mark is capable of registration, and the scope of your mark: that is which specific goods and services you should register the mark against in order to balance, on the one hand, getting the widest scope of protection with, on the other hand, avoiding too wide a scope that risks third party objections against peripheral coverage. Choosing the wrong classes or the wrong scope of your mark can lead to a registration which does not give you the protection that you really need for your core market.
Opposition to trade marks
Once your application has been accepted by the Intellectual Property Office, it will be ‘advertised’ so as to give third parties who have identical or similar pre-existing rights an opportunity to oppose the application. We are experienced in dealing with trade mark oppositions - whether your trade mark application is opposed or if you wish to oppose an application submitted by someone else. The strategy is usually to seek to achieve a negotiated outcome.
Trade mark infringement
Registering a trade mark gives you a monopoly on its use and enables you to prevent others from using that mark on the goods/services in respect of which you have registered it. You can also prevent others from using similar marks, on similar goods/services, where it can be shown that there is a likelihood of confusion on the part of the public. Infringement of your trade mark can be a serious threat to your business, harming your revenue and profits as well as your company’s commercial standing and reputation.
Passing off claims
Passing off is similar to trade mark infringement, but applies to protect unregistered rights. In particular it protects the goodwill that a trader has developed in relation to its goods and services. In simple terms, passing off requires the claimant to show:
- Goodwill: the claimant’s business has generated customer goodwill, which is being misappropriated by the defendant’s use of its branding.
- Misrepresentation: the defendant’s use of the claimant’s branding misrepresents to the public an association with the claimant, which does not in fact exist.
- Damage: to the claimant, by reason of the defendant’s misrepresentation.
Passing off is often claimed alongside trade mark infringement, but will be the only claim available if the mark that has been copied is not actually registered as a trade mark.
Your brand is important and you need specialist lawyers to help you protect it; lawyers who can identify the issues and provide solutions, based on their previous experience of dealing with these things. You want lawyers who can help you to avoid the pitfalls you were aware of, and those you didn’t know even existed. Lawyers like LCF Law.
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