Trademarks and branding, In a nutshell – expert advice from Ben Travers at Stephens Scown LLP
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For many, reputation is embedded within the brand, itself made up of, the company or domain name, trading name, or the name of a key product or service line. It may be a memorable and distinctive tagline or the distinctive packaging goods are sold in. Sometimes, its a combination of all these.
Often, these brand identifiers are the most valuable assets of a business — they can add to your bottom line. Unlike most other businesses assets, your reputation is irreplaceable. Yet many businesses neglect to protect this asset.
A common misconception is that a business is covered if it registers the company name and domain names. In the UK, trade mark registrations, domain name registrations and Company Name registrations all sit in parallel. Simply registering a domain name or company name does not mean you are free to use that name in trade. Only trade mark registration creates a monopoly in the brand — enabling you to stop others using your brand or something similar.
The trade mark registration system works on a first to file basis, so it is possible that a third party to register your brand or a similar brand as a trade mark for themselves. This could have a serious impact on any business expansion plans you may have, even if you were trading first.
Many businesses assume that brand protection is not for them, that it is costly and something which only larger organisations need to worry about. This is not the case. The costs of not doing it can be far higher.
Registration, which typically takes around 6 months, gives peace of mind and control over your brand and hard fought reputation whilst adding value to the business.