When starting a business, entrepreneurs typically incorporate their company at the Companies House, choose a trading name and secure a domain. However, none of these actually protect your brand name. Protection of a brand which is done by means of obtaining a registered trade mark is a separate consideration and is often overlooked by start up businesses.
Here are just some of the reasons why you should consider obtaining a registered trade mark:
- A registered trade mark gives you an exclusive right over the brand name, typically for 10 years (and potentially indefinitely if you keep renewing your trade mark). This means that only you will have a right to use your brand name for goods/services covered by the trade mark in the territory where it is registered, and you will be able to stop third parties from doing the same.
- If you start trading and don’t register a trade mark, someone else might register your brand name before you. There are certain unregistered rights arising in the brand name as you use it, but these are notoriously difficult, expensive and time-consuming to establish and prove – you will have to show that you obtained a sufficient goodwill in your brand name, the other side made a misrepresentation and you suffered damage as a result. This might mean that you will have to give up your unregistered trade mark and re-brand.
- Trade mark registration is key in obtaining relief against domain name squatters, which protects your online trading.
- Trade mark is an actual business asset: you can sell, charge, licence or franchise it. Importantly, any investor or an ultimate buyer of the business will look into your registered IP given the significant value it adds to the business.
Briffa lawyers are experts in all aspects of contentious and non-contentious intellectual property law and practice. If you are starting a business and would like to discuss trade mark registration or any other aspect of IP assets you might have and how to go about protecting them, please drop us an email or give us a call and we will be happy to arrange a free consultation with one of our specialist IP lawyers.
Written by Anastasia Troshkova, Solicitor