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What is a Trade Mark?

A trade mark is a logo which companies use to identify themselves. It can comprise words and images and is pivotal in developing a brand which customers can recognise.

A trade mark cannot be registered in the following scenarios:

  • If it describes the goods or services which the company provides
  • If it is not distinctive
  • If it includes any 3D shapes
  • If it contains any protected emblems
  • If it is offensive or against the law, e.g. if it promotes illegal behaviour
  • If it is misleading

Trade marks must be renewed every 10 years.

Trade mark protection

It is important to register your trade mark to ensure that a competitor doesn't copy it. It also means that if someone does use your trade mark, you can sue them. Also, by registering your trade mark it becomes your property, and you can sell or license it as you wish. By registering your trade mark, you have the right to use it on the services and goods which you provide.

Protecting an unregistered trade mark

It is possible to protect a trade mark by ‘passing off’. This process requires you to prove that the mark is yours and have built up a reputation which the mark now stands for. You must also show that you have been harmed by someone else using your trade mark. It can be a difficult and expensive process and so is advisable to register your trade mark.