“Why should I register my trade mark”, we hear you ask.
“I have a registered business name with the Companies Registration Office, money is tight at this early stage of the business’s life, and we can’t afford to spend thousands of euros on legal fees”.
Well, a trade mark essentially protects your business’s good name. It protects the brand equity you have built up through your innovative product, disruptive service or the quality of your staff in the minds of the public, i.e. your potential customers.
Who doesn’t automatically think of the best butter when they see ‘KERRYGOLD’ or anything but the finest of Cork exports, Barry’s Tea, when they see either product in an ad or on the supermarket shelf?
Let us not forget the famous Mr. Tayto. Could the waving, top-hat-wearing yellow humanoid spud be indicative of anything else but ‘The Original Irish Crisp’? I think not.
The gold-coloured Guinness harp on a black background, the Aer Lingus shamrock, Stripe Payments and Eir are other well-known examples of Irish trade marks.
The point is that these names and their associated logos, through their distinctiveness, immediately conjure up positive connotations of the product or service that they provide in the mind of their customers.
A business name registered with the Companies Registration Office does not necessarily prevent someone else from piggybacking on your good name. But, having a registered trade mark, whether in Ireland, EU-wide or further afield (depending on what markets you intend to operate in), is the best way to provide your business or organisation with the strongest possible legal protections against others copying your logo or trying to pass themselves off as being associated with you.
Trade marks are territorial rights. The Intellectual Property Office of Ireland (IPOI) is responsible for the registration of Irish national applications. Once the trade mark is registered it lasts for a 10-year period. This period can be extended indefinitely on payment of a renewal fee every 10 years. The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), which is based in Spain, offers trade mark protection across the 27 countries of the European Union. The system allows you to file one trade mark application and pay one set of fees. This system is a cost-effective system for businesses that trade across the EU.
Even further afield, international trade mark applications can be filed via the World Intellectual Property Organisation in Switzerland.
It’s not as expensive as you might think. In fact, protecting your trade mark is one of the best euro-for-euro spends your business can make in its early years, such is the value of the intellectual property once the business matures.
Briffa is on hand to manage all of your national and international trade mark filings, just email email@example.com to discuss this further. We’re not stuffy solicitors – we’re sound and we’re delighted to be in Cork!
Written by Mark Eiffe – Solicitor
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