There’s no doubt that one of the influential factors of a business’ success is a strong, memorable business name and logo. A clever trade mark can add tremendous value to a brand, ensuring it stands out from competitors and provides credibility to its products and services.
Many businesses tend to trade mark their business name as an overarching brand that covers a range of products or services. As an example, a cosmetic business e.g. Sunshine Cosmetics would register their name as a trade mark covering their full range of sun lotions and make-up.
If you are unsure of how to trade mark a business name in the UK, read on for our do’s and don’ts on registering a trade mark to protect your brand:
Trade mark registration tips
You could be forgiven for thinking that when you register your company name or product with Companies House that it is covered as a trade mark. But unfortunately you need to do a little bit more groundwork. You must register your name and any logo with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) too.
Thinking on practical terms it’s a good idea to check that the website domain name of your proposed trade mark is available. Though it’s important to mention that if someone else owns the website domain name of your proposed trade mark this won’t stop you from being able to register your business name as a trade mark.
Avoid being too literal with your trade mark name as anything too descriptive will be flatly rejected. For instance, if your trade mark is too closely related to a product name or service or misspelt on purpose this is also frowned upon – think phonetically – it’s the way it sounds that counts! A trade mark cannot include a famous name or existing brand without written permission.
One of the simplest ways to ensure a successful trade mark name application is to create an entirely unique name or word – these are regarded as coined words. It’s one of the main reasons why unknown brand names have become household consumer names as they make a new splash in the market.
How much does it cost to trade mark a name for your business?
It costs £170 to register a trade mark in one specific class electronically, but if you wish to send in your registration via the traditional paper method this will cost you £250. Each additional class you need to register costs £50.
When you apply directly to the IPO you’ll need to provide details of what you want to register e.g. a word, slogan or illustration as well as the trade mark classes you want to register for, e.g. class 1: chemicals or class 43: food and drink services.
The UK’s trade mark classification system is divided between goods in classes 1-34 and services in classes 35-45. Visit the IPO’s complete classification of goods and services here.
Searching for existing trade marked business names
The IPO offers a free search engine of both UK and Community trade marks. In the event you find any identical trade marks and they are registered for goods or services similar to or identical to ones you want to trade mark then this could pose problems.
However, there are ways around this, particularly if you’re prepared to send a letter of consent to the existing trade mark holder or apply to revoke the trade mark if it is more than five years old and unused in the relevant classification. As with all important documentation relating to intellectual property, we would highly recommend that you seek the professional advice of a trade mark attorney who can draft a letter of consent on your behalf.
If you’re unsure whether trademarking is an available and suitable form of protection for your business name, why not attend our workshop on Trade Mark Searching? The session is geared towards fledgling entrepreneurs and inventors with exciting ideas or products, teaching you how to use web databases and giving you a chance to ask questions of our experts.