Every business will have some form of Intellectual Property (IP), from larger corporate companies down to local family run businesses. It’s the product or services that you have developed that sets you apart from your competitors. We know that, as a business, there are numerous issues you will face involving the development of the product, hiring employees, raising the capital and so much more. However, many of our clients often overlook the importance of IP protection throughout the life of their business, especially at the start.
Obtaining IP protection at an early stage can minimise competition and act as a defensive mechanism to protect your IP. It can also act as a useful tool to attract further funding or partnerships. It is therefore vital that business owners look to implement an effective IP strategy at the earliest possible opportunity.
One element of IP protection that is applicable to all businesses is trademarks and in a previous article we considered the reasons why you should look to register them [click HERE to read]. In this article, our commercial team summarise their top tips for protecting your brand.
- Identify what IP you have.
- Your brand name, business name, product name, slogan, trading name and logo all have potential to be registered as trademarks.
- You should consider all elements of your brand to identify those which are used to differentiate your brand from your competitors and allow customers to distinguish your business.
- Choose the locations relevant to your business.
- Trademarks are territorial and therefore you should consider where you require such protection.
- If you are a UK business that does not carry out any business outside of the UK, then a UK trademark is likely to suffice. However, for example, if you operate in Japan as well as the UK, you may need to apply for a trademark in Japan, as well as in the UK.
- Speak to a lawyer.
- Seeking advice on your trademark can save both time and money. A lawyer will be able to advise on the legality of your trademark and confirm whether your mark is potentially registrable.
- There are several criteria that must be met to register a trademark and a lawyer will be able to advise you of these and also ways that you can adapt your mark to meet such criteria.
- A lawyer can also help you prepare a list of goods or services to which the trademark can be applied. They will help you consider all aspects of your business, including any potential new market sectors which may be relevant as your business grows. They will also be able to complete and submit the application on your behalf.
- Search the register.
- Once you have decided on your mark and prepared a list of goods and services you should always carry out a search of the register for any conflicting marks. This is something that your lawyer will be able to do. Your lawyer will be able to search both UK and EU registers, as well as general internet searches.
- If you find a trade mark which conflicts with your mark, it does not necessarily mean that yours is not able to be registered. It should however make you alert that you risk facing possible opposition from the owner of that trade mark.
- You should also consider searching for unregistered marks. These are more difficult to find and will involve both general internet searches, as well as detailed, industry specific searches.
- Register all forms/variations.
- When registering your mark, it is important to register all forms. This would include all trading names, business names and logos. You may also want to consider registering slight variations of these, for example Berry Smith LLP and BERRY SMITH LLP.
- Marks which are virtually the same may be registered in a series. Your lawyer will be able to provide further advice as to what can be registered in a series application.
Investing in trademark protection in the short term will pay rewards later. Trademarks are vital assets that need to be protected to enhance the ability to succeed in the long term. Applying for trademark protection now will not only enhance the value of your business but will also act as a defensive mechanism to protect your brand. Failure to obtain and enforce exclusive trademark rights will significantly reduce the value of your investments into your brand development.
At Berry Smith we are encouraging our clients to think about their branding and what potential trademarks they may have. As part of this campaign, we are offering our brand protection package for a reduced fixed fee, for a limited time only.
To see our current offer to register your trademark click HERE.
For further information or advice on registering your trademark, please contact Abbie Anthony firstname.lastname@example.org