Registering a Trade Mark

Your business has its own unique brand and reputation and it is vital in a competitive marketplace to ensure that these are protected from unscrupulous third parties.

Some business owners do not believe there is any point in registering their trading or brand name because they consider their business not large enough to warrant such protection, despite the risk of losing business while others profit from their goodwill. This can be a dangerous view.

Although there is limited redress available to owners of unregistered trade marks in the common law action of ‘passing off’, this can be difficult and extremely costly to prove. If a dispute arises in relation to a registered trade mark, this will be less expensive to resolve. Both the Police and Trading Standards can prosecute those who misuse registered trade marks and infringement can result in a considerable fine or imprisonment.

There are other benefits, too. Although registered trade marks do not entitle the owner to register a domain name as of right, in the event of a dispute it will be the trade mark owner who is more likely to be granted rightful ownership of the domain name. Also, the owner of a registered trade mark can protect it from being used (for example) as a Facebook ‘named profile’ (i.e. Failing to protect your trade mark on social networking sites might allow someone unconnected with your business to use your trading name as part of their profile: the risks are obvious.

Also note that failing to use a trade mark is a valid ground for opposing its renewal when the registration period comes up for renewal.

For more information see the Intellectual Property Office website.