What Is a Trademark (and Why Do I Need One)?

A trademark is the sign with which consumers 1) recognise your goods and/or services, 2) base their current and repeat purchase decisions on, and 3) distinguish you from your competitors. It also protects the word mark, logo design, and business entity as a whole from being unlawfully imitated. This means granting protection for the “name” of something you’ve created or invented.

A trademark needs to be unique in the area you are doing business and be distinctive, meaning that it cannot just describe exactly what you do. Before you file an application for a trademark, you also need to make sure your business and brand don’t interfere with other prior rights, which could get you into a lot of legal trouble and impede you from using the great brand you believe in.


What can be registered as a trademark?

A trademark can be any sign that distinguishes the goods or services of one undertaking from those of others. It can be a word or words, a design, letters, numerals, a slogan, a shape, a colour or a combination of colours.


How Do I File a Trademark?

Filing a trademark isn’t a simple process, but the protection it affords your brand is worth your time and effort. From what can be trademarked to the process of filing for a trademark, you can read our easy 7‑step guide of how to file a trademark here.


What are the advantages of registering a trademark?

There are many but the main ones include:

  • You have stronger rights to use and protect a registered trademark.
  • An action for infringement of a registered trademark is easier, quicker, and cheaper than an action for passing off.
  • Having a trademark on the register warns others of your claim to that mark and thereby acts as a deterrent.
  • Licensing of a registered trademark is safer.
What do the fees that I pay at the outset cover?

The fees you pay at the outset cover our fees for preparing and filing the trademark application and any government fee payable. If no serious objections and no oppositions are encountered, then the application should swiftly proceed to registration without any further costs being incurred.

Not included in these fees is the cost of dealing with any objections, oppositions, or other procedures before the Intellectual Property Office, or any other legal work required.


How long will it take for my trademark to be registered?

For UK trademark applications that do not encounter objections or oppositions, the process will not usually take more than about 5-6 months.

For European Union trademark applications the process is slightly longer, but applications that do not encounter objections or oppositions should be registered within about 6 months.

If there are official objections, or oppositions from third parties, then the process can take much longer. Importantly, protection will date back to the filing date of your application and anyone who has been using your mark illegally since that date will have been infringing your rights and may be liable to you in damages.


How long does my trademark last?

Both UK and EU trademark registrations are valid for ten years. Registrations can be renewed for further ten-year periods on the payment of a renewal fee.


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