Guest Blog: 10 Tips for Using Trade Marks To Protect Your Business by Sheridans Law
Using Trade Marks To Protect Your Business
Your brand is the part of your business that communicates to the outside world who you are, the quality of your goods and services, and your company’s image. Therefore, it is an important and valuable
asset. One way of protecting your brand is through registering it as a trade mark. Trade marks are also a valuable asset for your company. In this note, we provide some “top tips” for using trade marks to protect your business.
Registered trade mark protection gives the registered proprietor the exclusive right to use the brand. Furthermore, the trade mark registration is evidence that the registered proprietor is the owner of the brand. Once registered trade marks last for an initial period of 10 years (for the UK at least).
Protecting your brand identity
It is possible to register most names, slogans and logos as trade marks. The more distinctive the trade mark the more likely it is to be registrable and also the stronger trade mark protection you will have once it is registered. Therefore, it is important to identify the key aspect of your brand identity and seek to protect it.
Picking your goods and services of interest
Trade Marks are registered in respect of goods and services divided into groups called classes. A carefully and strategically drafted specification will be important for both brand protection and brand exploitation.
Select your key territories
Trade marks are territorial in nature. Therefore, you should apply to register your trade mark in your key territories of interest. This may be where you are currently operating or where you have an interest in expanding in the future. Think about the territories where your manufacture and the territories where you exploit. If you have a number of territories of interest, we can advise on a trade mark filing strategy that will meet your brand protection needs whilst being sensitive to your budget.
Make your brand work for you
Once your trade mark portfolio is in place you can use these assets to work for you. You can licence your trade marks, or enter into franchise deals with, third parties in return for a royalty/receive share. You should note that in some territories, trade mark registrations are required before you can licence, commercially exploit or import goods into that market.
Trade mark as an asset
As well as licensing, trade marks can be bought and sold. A registered trade mark is an identifiable asset which attracts value. Therefore make sure your trade mark and its value are maintained.
Recognising trade marks as value for money
Whilst the application costs are upfront, given that the trade mark protection covers 10 years, spread out over the 10 year period they are good value for money.
Preserving the value of your brand
Once registered it is important to monitor any third party use of an identical or similar brand. Any unauthorised use may infringe your trade mark rights, which in turn affects the value of your company name and the business which the brand attracts. Therefore you should identify a strategy which deals with infringers in terms of their risk to your brand.
Registering your company name with Companies House provides you some (albeit weak) protection to protect your brand. However, this does not give your business the same protection or benefits as a registered trade mark.
Consider protecting your brand through other means. This includes copyright and also registering domain names for your brand.
Disclaimer: This briefing note is for general guidance only. Legal advice should be sought before taking action in relation to specific matters.
The rise of brands converging across various industries has meant that trade mark lawyers have to monitor changes in the law more than ever.
At Sheridans, our trade mark specialists advise a number of individuals, brands and agencies in innovative projects across all leisure, media, and entertainment.
We provide a one-stop-shop from brand genesis through to brand development, exploitation and protection and provide cost-effective advice on trade marks, filing strategy and brand development. Our clients receive relevant, focused advice for reaching their business goals.
For further information, please contact:
Telephone +44 (0)20 7079 0103
Telephone +44 (0)20 7079 0131