By Carrie-ann | Dec 29, 2016 | Getting Your Business Ready

What Is A Trademark?

A trademark is what distinguishes your business, goods and services from other providers, and can take the form of a logo, shape, slogan, colours or sound. By registering your trademark, you can legally prevent your brand from being stolen or copied.

Why Have a Trademark?
A trademark will help the consumer quickly identify your services or products. For example, businesses such as Coca-Cola, Starbucks and McDonalds have iconic trademarks that allow their products to stand out from the crowd.

Does Your Trademark Qualify for Protection?
Before you’re able to register your trademark for protection you must ensure it qualifies. Your trademark must not:
* Be offensive – for instance, using swear words or pornographic images.
* Describe the goods or service it relates to. You can’t simply trademark the word ‘steel’ if you own a steel mill.
* Be misleading – for example, you can’t say your goods are ‘low fat’ if they are high in fat.
* Use three-dimensional shapes.
* Be too simplistic or common. Your slogan can’t, for example, be generic ‘we are the best’.
* Be similar to state symbols based on World Intellectual Property.
REMEMBER: Your trademark should be distinctive without offending potential customers. Any logo or slogan should be the best possible representation of your business.

Before you Apply
Before you try and register your trademark you must ensure no one has already registered an identical or similar one for the goods or services you provide. You can do this by searching a database on the UK Governments website. A trademark attorney can also help you with these searches to ensure you don’t infringe on intellectual property.
GOOD TO KNOW: Should your trademark have similarities to another business, you can ask the holder of the existing trademark for permission to register yours.

How to Apply
To apply to register your trademark you must fill out an online form via the Intellectual Property Office. You can either do this in person or appoint an attorney, solicitor or in-house trademark department to do this on your behalf.

What are the Costs?
By using the ‘Right Start’ service you can check your application meets the rules for registration. This will cost you:
* £100 initially and then £25 for each additional class.
* If you decide to proceed with your application you’ll pay another £100 plus another £25 for each additional class.
A standard online application will cost you £170 plus £50 for each additional class, and a paper form application will cost you £200 plus £50 for each additional class.
REMEMBER: Even if your application doesn’t meet the rules for registration you can still continue with the process.

After You Apply
* You’ll receive feedback from your application within 20 days and will have 2 months to resolve issues.
* If there are no objections from the examiner, your trademark will be published in the trademarks journal for two months.
* If no one else has objections over your trademark it will be registered and you’ll receive a certificate.

Once Registered
You can object to other people’s trademarks if you feel they infringe on yours. Your trademark will be registered for 10 years, after which you can renew it.