“No matter what marketplace you operate in; no matter the size and scope of your firm, a registered trademark is simply a must for your business. It will serve to protect, differentiate and add-value to what you do and therefore make your business stand out in the crowd.” Dr. Jonathan Elms
In this picture, we see some of the most famous trademarks that have been registered in the world. Now, you may be wondering What is a trade mark and why register?. If you take a closer look at the trademarks in this picture, you will soon realize that they are all distinctive signs which enable the manufacturers of specific products or services to differentiate their products or services from other products or services in the market. Some common signs that can be the object of trademarks include: names, figures, stamps, letters, seals and shapes as seen in the picture.
There are unregistered and registered trademarks. You can choose to leave your trademark unregistered but investing in and using a trademark that is not registered will prove to be ineffective in the long run because you will not have exclusive rights to that trademark. You need to register your trademark so that you can obtain the exclusive right to use it and so that that right can be protected by law.
A company that has the exclusive right on a trademark is entitled to prohibit all third parties form using that trademark in the course of trade. They are allowed to prohibit the use of any sign which is identical to their trademark or any sign for which there is a likelihood of confusion.
•Prevent others from using your trademark without your permission
•Opportunity to take legal actions against those who do use your trademark without your permission
•Opportunity to create value and generate revenues by selling, franchising or licensing others to use your trademark.
In order to register a trademark, certain substantive and formal requirements must be met. The substantive requirements for registering a trademark are as follows:
•The trade mark must be represented graphically.
•It must be distinctive instead of descriptive for the type and class of product or service that it is being registered for.
•It must not be generic product names such as soap and pizza.
The formal requirement that must be met is that a formal application must be submitted and the trademark once approved must be registered in the trademark register.
In the UK and most other countries, the Intellectual Property Office deals with the filing and registration of trademarks. There, you can:
•Apply to register a trademark
•Renew existing trademark
•Search for a trademark so that you do not try to register one which is already registered
If you have not registered your trademark, you can still protect it if someone use it without your permission by proving that the trademark is yours, that it has helped you to build up your reputation, and that the other person’s use of the trademark have harmed you in some way. This is not always very easy to prove which is why it is always better to have your trademarks registered so you do not need to prove anything.
There are three main symbols by which a trademark may be designated. These are:
• which is the trademark symbol for an unregistered trademark which is used for the branding or promotion of goods
• which is the trademark symbol used for an unregistered service mark which is used for the branding and promotion of services
• this symbol which is the letter "R" surrounded by a circle is used for a registered trademark.
Filing for and defending a trademark consists of many legalities which may require you to get the help of a trademark attorney from a trademark agency. You will need someone to act on your behalf in dealing with the registration authorities in the UK and the European Union. A trademark attorney will play a central role in the filing and registration process and will be responsible for advising on and achieving appropriate registrations. He will also advise you on the correct way to use your trademark once it has been obtained and will assist you in maintaining the registration and dealing with the renewal procedures.
If at any time you are accused of infringing another’s right or if your rights are being infringed, you will need the assistance of a trademark attorney to help you resolve these conflicts. A trademark attorney can attempt to help you resolve conflicts by providing:
•Letters of consent
•Litigation, if no other option is available
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