Trade marks aren’t just for the likes of big brands and household names. In fact, if you’ve recently launched a business (or you’re about to), then registering a trade mark should feature high on your priority list.
Rachael Ward, a Chartered Trade Mark Attorney at Ward Trade Marks, our client, explains all.
What is a trade mark?
A trade mark is a sign that allows consumers to distinguish your brand from that of another. A trade mark can be any kind of graphic representation, including brand names and logos. Colours, patterns, shapes and even sounds can also be trade marked.
If you’ve got a business, then it’s likely that you’ve got a name and a logo. You might even have a slogan. These are all trade marks, even if you didn’t realise it. But here’s the catch: you need to register these trade marks. Otherwise, your business could be at risk.
Do I have to register a trade mark?
Now, you might be wondering if this is really necessary. As a business owner, you probably have a hundred-and-one things on your to-do list. You might not have set aside any time in your already busy schedule for registering a trade mark – something which to any outsider sounds complicated and legalistic.
In theory, you don’t have to register a trade mark. You could continue with your business, using your brand name and logo without ever registering them. Until, that is, someone else comes along and registers a brand name and logo that’s just like yours. This business might only have been operating for a matter of days. It might not even have launched yet. But if this business trade marks a business name and logo before you – and they are considered to be ‘similar’ to yours – then you may lose the right to use them.
This is the shocking reality that many businesses find themselves in every year. They invest countless hours building their brand. Then, just like that, it all comes crashing down. They can no longer use the name and logo that has been associated with their business for so long, possibly since its inception. And all because they failed to register their trade mark.
You might find this hard to believe. Surely if you’ve been operating under a brand name and logo, then you acquire some kind of ownership over them? Not necessarily. You may be able to take legal action, but it’s expensive, time-consuming and hard to prove your case. Your only other options would be to go through a re-brand, or to shut up shop.
What are the benefits of registering a trade mark?
The number one benefit of registering a trade mark is, therefore, protection.