Should I Trade Mark My Business Name?

Written by Thomas Staveley | February 28, 2022

Trade Marks

One of the most common questions we receive from startups, and even established SMEs, is: “Should I trade mark my business name?”.

A trade mark is a vital, valuable commercial asset for any business. We highly recommend that any company registers their brand name as a trade mark if the name is eligible and available.

As a minimum, you should consider registering your business name as a mark in the UK via the UK IPO. International brands may also wish to register their business name overseas. Registering with the EUIPO covers all 27 member states, for example. However, trade marks further afield can require individual applications in each country you wish to target.

Why should you trade mark your business name?

Registering a trade mark for your business name will provide you with exclusive rights. Only your business is allowed to use the mark for the goods and services it’s registered against. You can pursue legal action against anyone who uses your rights without permission.

A registered trade mark also gives you the right to stop third parties from registering identical or similar marks in classes of goods and services that are identical or similar to your mark.

As you can see, a trade mark can be crucial for deterring infringement and enforcing your rights against third parties. Plus, they help you to expand your brand portfolio. This can add significant value to the business (which is useful, for example, should you seek investment or a sale of the business).

Can I only trade my business name?

No, there are a number of different business assets you can register as a trade mark.

Aside from your brand name, you can also register your business logo (amongst others, such as distinctive brand colours and slogans). A word mark would give your business name broader protection, whereas a logo mark is more limited protection in respect of that particular figurative logo. Nevertheless, each trade mark will add identifiable value to your business.

If you ever came to sell your business in the future, potential buyers will want to ensure the brand is protected. And they’ll want to be able to continue using the business name after the purchase. Plus, a registered trade mark can hold significant value and much like any tangible asset, it can be bought, sold, and licenced.

Can my business name be registered?

Not all business names may be registerable as trade marks. There are circumstances where there may already be similar or identical trade marks on the register, which can present a serious issue for your brand. Or, your business name may not be eligible for registration due to one or more of the following reasons:

  • Offensive
  • Purely descriptive of the goods or services it will relate to
  • Misleading
  • Common phrase
  • Resembles state symbols, like flags or hallmarks

A trade mark registration lawyer can advise on the eligibility of your business name. They can conduct clearance searches to identify any identical or similar marks already on the register. Doing this prior to making an application saves time and money.

Doing a clearance search prior to an application saves you time and money in the long-run. They can preemptively determine the likelihood that your application will proceed smoothly, without hitting any speed bumps along the way.

If you require assistance registering a trade mark or doing detailed clearance searches, we can help. Feel free to contact one of our expert solicitors on info@briffa.com.

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