Why should I register the trade mark(s) of my business?

Why should I register the trade mark(s) of my business?

25th May 2022, 3:34 pm

A trade mark is anything that identifies the origin of a good or service.  This includes the name of the product, packaging and logo and can even include sounds. Famous examples of trade marks include the brand name Heinz and the Kit Kat slogan ‘Have a Break. Have a Kit Kat’.  As a business owner, you will probably have registered your business, chosen a business name, perhaps made a budget and obtained insurance; but, why should you register your trade mark?  Here are some tips, which help to highlight the value of trade mark protection if you are on the fence:

Tip One: Think of a trade mark as a legally enforceable right 

If a third party uses your trade mark or something similar to your trade mark, consumers could think that the origin of the third party’s goods or services are your business. As such, third parties could benefit from or harm your business’s reputation.  A trade mark registration helps you secure the  right to use your trade mark  in relation to your products and importantly helps you stops others using your trade mark.  Coca-Cola and Apple are examples of companies that have used their registrations to counter third party infringement and as a result, have preserved their brand and reputation.

Tip Two: Think of trade mark registration as a step-up from unregistered trade mark protection 

You may have heard that, in many  countries including the UK, trade marks can be protected without registration via use and common law. However, not all countries provide this protection. For example in many parts of continental Europe there is no such thing as common law. Trade mark rights are principally protected via registration and the first registrant gets the rights.  Therefore, if you sold internationally, registration would be your only form of trade mark protection.  Additionally, even where this protection is provided, proving ownership of common law rights is not always clear cut. For example,  the originators of Jif lemon juice, had to provide large amounts of evidence to a judge in order to prove ownership of their packaging even in the United Kingdom.

Tip Three: Think of trade mark registration like an Insurance policy

Although it costs money to register a trade mark, registration acts similarly to an insurance policy, as the money spent limits risk. If you ever had to prove ownership of your trade mark, for example, providing a registration certificate would be simple.   However, failure to register a trade mark, means that proving ownership would be complicated.  This can easily lead to a messy and costly court cases.

Tip Four: Think of trade mark registration as security in trade mark ownership

Failure to register can also lead to loss of a trade mark.  Various traders have had to change their names or brands because they did not register their names or brands early.  However, the registration process involves provision of an examination report, which would bring conflicting trade marks to your attention.

Tip Five: Think of trade mark registration as protection for your business resources

As above, trade mark registration limits the risk that you will have to change, for example, your brand name or logo.  As such, a trade mark can help to protect all of the time, money, knowledge and other resources that you have expended on marketing and advertising.  Indeed, changing a business name or logo, would only mean that these resources would need to be drawn upon again.

Tip Six: Think of trade mark registration as a way to strengthen your brand 

Trade marks also increase brand value as a whole, as they allow consumers to identify your brand.  A good example of this is Chanel, which has one of the most recognisable logos that distinguishes the brand from its competitors.  A trade mark registration can provide an ‘exclusion zone’ around your brand.

Tip Seven: Think of a trade mark separately to a domain name

It is easy to think that registering your domain name first, means that you own this domain.  However, a domain name registration as such gives you no IP rights to the domain.  Therefore, in order to truly secure your domain, it is important to register its wording as a trade mark, where you can.

Tip Eight: Think of a trade mark separately to a company name

It is also easy to think that registering your company name at Companies House means that you own that name and will continue to do so without issue.   However, a company name registration again gives you no rights to that name from an intellectual property law perspective. In the UK trade mark rights are established via trading (use) of the a brand or company name and registering it as a trade mark.

Tip Nine: Think of trade mark registration as part of your business strategy

A trade mark is essentially part of your business strategy.  For example, if you are ever thinking of expanding your business outside of the UK, you may also want to consider trade mark registration in the countries where you would like to expand. This would allow you to reserve use of your trade mark within those countries.

Tip Ten: Think of a trade mark like a business asset

It has been reported that Google’s  trade mark has accumulated a value of $44 billion. This would be the selling price of the trade mark if the business was ever sold.    However, you do not have to wait to sell your business to profit from your trade mark. A trade mark registration can be licenced to third parties. A trade mark registration is a property right like any other asset of your company.

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