Our intellectual property solicitors work side-by-side as an expert team with a specialist trademark attorney firm based in our Salisbury office and sharing our resources.
UK Trademark Law
A trademark is a legal registration which distinguishes your goods or services from other companies trading in the same sector. Trademarks often associate a company to the goods and services it provides in the form of a logo and/or slogan. A high-quality trademark is one which is original in the way it looks and/or sounds.
Getting a trademark identifies your logo or company slogan as being legally owned. Therefore it cannot be reproduced without your permission. UK trademark law is governed by the Trademarks Act (1994).
The requirements for a UK Trademark
Your trademark must be original and distinctive. It can be a word, phrase, sign, logo or picture (see below for a more examples). The idea behind the trademark is that it is clearly connected to your business or company.
The trademark must not have been registered previously by another owner. Or a similar trademark to one which is already registered can not be registered twice.
A trademark to some degree is supposed to be non-descriptive. It should not be a medium used by your business to describe the goods or services that you provide. Instead, a trademark should work by association and when seen or heard, it should draw the consumer’s thoughts towards your business. If the trademark is too descriptive it will likely be rejected for registration.
The following example demonstrates a registerable and non-registerable trademark:
- Non-registerable – ‘High Quality Plumbing’ – this is too descriptive as it basically dictates exactly what service is provided and is not original.
- Non-registerable – ‘Plumbing Direct’ – this would be objected to as the word direct refers to the service being offered to the general public and is a frequently used reference.
- Registerable – ‘Patterson’s High Quality Plumbing’ – this identifies the company and Pattersons would thus be the trademark. To ensure that a company phrase such as this becomes entitled to registration try adding in a made up title or logo alongside the phrase to increase its originality.
What can be trademarked?
The following are examples of things which can be trademarked:
- Shapes and colours
It is usually a combination of the above that when put together, forms the most successful type of trademark.
Protecting and enforcing your UK Trademark
You can protect your logo or company slogan by registering it with the Intellectual Property Office in order to create a trademark. Once a trademark is registered it can then be accompanied by the ® symbol which acts as a warning to others that this particular logo or slogan etc, is protected by the law.
Applying for trademark registration is a complex process and legal advice should always be sought prior to submitting an application.
If someone uses your trademark without permission they are ‘infringing’ your trademark rights. It is always a good idea to try to resolve the issue first via notification and negotiation as the person or company may be doing so without knowledge of their infringement.
If you are aware of an infringement that is not accidental, then you should seek the services of an intellectual property lawyer as soon as possible. The lawyer will be able to notify the offending party officially and threaten legal action where appropriate. In many cases a co-existence agreement can be formed which enables both parties (in a similar trade or market) to use an identical or similar trademark. This is some ways can attract a wider market for a business.
It is often the case that tactful negotiation and mediation can resolve a trademark breach and compensation is often agreed out of court. However as owning a trademark is a legal right, you are able to enforce it through the courts. The court can offer solutions such as awarding injunctions, which prevents the person or company from infringing your rights further, they can also order the infringer to give up any goods produced as a result of using your trademark and the court can also award damages.
A trademark infringement also carries criminal sanctions if the infringer is considered to be counterfeiting. The Trading Standards Office prosecutes these types of case.
Benefits of registering your trademark
As discussed above a registered trademark preserves its originality and therefore can be an invaluable tool for marketing your business or company.
A registered trademark can also be used to generate income. This can be done by licensing the right to use the trademark to others in return for capital or using the registered trademark as security against a loan or mortgage.
Using a Trademark Attorney
Our Trademark Attorneys and Lawyers can help you in the following ways:
- Offer expert advice about whether or not you are entitled to register for a trademark and help ascertain the value of the registration
- Enforce your legal rights
- Produce a comprehensive license for your trademark or a co-existence agreement
- Negotiate or meditate with trademark infringers, or where necessary take action before the court
We can help you use exploit your intellectual property rights to assist the growth of your business.
Contact Our Trademark Attorneys
Our Trademark Attorneys and Lawyers act for clients nationwide, from Bournemouth to Sheffield, Coventry to Cardiff .
For more information about our UK Trademark issues issues, call our specialist Trademark Attorneys today for
- FREEPHONE 0800 1404544
- a FREE first phone consultation on 0800 1404544 or
- use the contact form below:
Comments or questions are welcome.