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By LegalEdge News

Protecting your brand: Trade Marks

You’ve worked hard to build your business and grow your brand but have you protected it?

Here are our top 7 tips:

  1. Register a trade mark. This is key. It means you can stop others from using the same or a similar name for your type of products/services. If you don’t someone else could do so and force you to re-brand, give up domain names, social media accounts, etc.
  2. Register the name, not just the logo, so you’re protected regardless of any logo design/style and also any changes to it.
  3. Search the official registers to check the name is available and see if there’s anything similar registered already. If so it may be difficult to get yours registered. It may also be difficult if the name is too ‘generic’.
  4. Pick the right ‘classes’ for your goods/services and provide an accurate description. ‘Classes’ are categories e.g. food, software, clothing, consulting services, etc. If you include too many or the spec is too broad your mark could be challenged. And if you choose too few or the scope is too narrow you won’t get the full protection you need.
  5. Apply for trade marks in territories where your business and customers are located – if you apply for the EU* and the US you can protect your brand in over 50% of the global market by GDP.
  6. Deal with official queries quickly, otherwise you could lose your right to register the trade mark.
  7. You don’t need to use the ® symbol to show you have a registered trade mark, but it helps. It tells others that you have protected your brand, particularly in the US. If you don’t have a registered mark you can still use the ™ symbol.

* Effect of Brexit:

  • If you’re applying for trade marks you need to apply for the UK and EU separately.
  • Existing EU registrations will no longer cover the UK, but you will be automatically be given a separate UK mark.
  • You will need to renew your EU and UK marks separately in future.
  • Use of your brand name in the UK no longer constitutes use in the EU (and vice versa) so for EU protection you’ll need to have customers at least one (preferably more) EU country to help prevent your EU mark from being challenged due to non-use.
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