Eighty3 - Creative Solutions

Hey, that’s mine! The Trademark and what you need to know

Hey That's Mine!

So, you’ve just created your shiny new logo, and you’re proud. This is going to be where your business starts, and you have great hopes! But, how do you ensure that your brand spanking new asset remains yours? Say hello to the trademark!

 

What is a trademark?

A trademark is the recognition of property. Specifically, intellectual property (IP), the creative product of someone’s mind. We use trademarks to differentiate specific products from others that are potentially very similar. We can all think of examples: how do you discern one giant fast-food chain from another? It might be the brand name, the logo, or both, but you can bet your bottom dollar they will be trademarked.

 

Back to your freshly-baked logo… Now you have carved out your ideas into something special, you really don’t want someone else, knowingly or not, to use the same image as you. Or indeed, for you to unwittingly tread on someone else’s toes by using their trademark — ouch! Infringing someone else’s rights or ‘passing off’ as another company just isn’t cool. And perhaps, most importantly, your trademark lets your customers know that what they’re getting is the real deal.

 

So, how can you protect yourself and safeguard your device from being copied and used to the detriment of your business? How can you ensure you aren’t infringing on someone else’s rights? And come to think of it, what can be trademarked? Read on, my friend…

But I got there first!

Types of intellectual property include copyright, design right, the trademark and the patent; in fact, there’s a whole sector of law dedicated to IP. Who knew?!

Copyright (©) and design right are the only protections that are available free of charge. More than that, they are actually bestowed instantly on any meaningful creative endeavour; you don’t even have to apply. If you are the creator of new work — a business logo, for instance — you own the copyright claim over it, which gives you certain privileges. But, if someone else designed the artwork for you and you didn’t buy the copyright, then you don’t own the rights. For further information about copyright and design right click on the links.

Registering your logo as a trademark is the best way to say, “Hey, this is mine”. You’ll be able to challenge any infringement of your trademark and ensure you have complete control over your products or services without being passed off by an individual or company trying to make money from your good name.

Registering your asset

Before you register your would-be trademark, the first thing to do is ensure something else very similar isn’t already registered. You can access searchable databases to see those trademarks already registered and this will give you an idea of the freedom you have in creating your own. See here for an example. There is a cost involved, but once registered, you’ll have use of that device for ten years, as long as you meet the relevant criteria during that time. After the allotted time, you’ll need to renew.

You can trademark anything from logos and words to sounds, slogans, and colours, but there are limits. If the content is objectionable, insulting or is in common usage, you can’t register it. You’ll also need to select from the 45 broad categories or “classes” you’d like to register in. You can register in multiple classes, so it’s a good idea to not only think about what you specialise in now but to consider where you see your business going in the future. The application process (assuming your request is approved) takes about four months and includes time for any objections to be raised.

The next step… World domination?

Your successful application will only register your trademark in the UK. This registration comes with the ability to use the ® symbol (the ™ symbol indicates trademarks that are not registered). If you intend to go global, be aware that there are separate processes for EU and international trademark applications.

World domination? Steady on there! You may want to set your sights high and have loads of people recognise your trademark — the more people that know about your business and products, the better, right? The caveat is you don’t want your trademark — for example, a word or phrase — to be absorbed into the common lexicon; otherwise, you’ll lose it. Your trademark or brand could be worth a significant sum by this point in your journey, so losing it probably isn’t the best idea!

The small print

Whatever rights you have — copyright, design right, trade mark or patent, stand by them. The bigger companies wouldn’t tolerate infringement, so why should you?

This blog is a whistle-stop tour of the trademark. It’s not meant to be taken as — or used instead of — legal advice. Intellectual property is a detailed and somewhat complex topic to cover in a short article, so if you’d like more in-depth information about your specific case, we advise that you either research further or consult an intellectual property lawyer.

There’s plenty of information about trademarks, copywriting, designs and patents on the British Library website or .gov.uk, through which you can also make your trademark application.

Related
adjective

belonging to the same family, group, or type; connected.

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