If you were asked why it is important to protect your brand, I’m sure you could supply an endless list of motives. However, the common misconception lies in how to do this effectively. Simply registering your business name at Companies House or purchasing a domain name will not offer you protection if other people start to use it.
Applying for a trademark via the Intellectual Property Office is the only way of registering your logo, brand or name legally in the UK. Do not be tricked by fraudulent companies who offer their services for ‘copyright registration’ or similar, it simply does not exist.
Celebrities clamor to register trademarks and you will see the news littered with stories of Taylor Swift trademarking her song lyrics or the Kardashians embroiled in yet another trademark war. The modern day celebrity makes their bread from their brand and their desperation to register trademarks should not go unnoted.
Trademarks are a hugely important part of your ‘intellectual property’ or ‘IP’ so called because it can be licensed, assigned or sold in a similar way to physical property. You can sell or lease your trademarked brand in the same way that you could a flat. However, if you don’t have that trademark in place then a competitor could use your brand for free. In the same way you wouldn’t let someone live in your property without paying rent, don’t let them take advantage of your brand. If another business starts to use your brand and you don’t have a trademark in place, you won’t be able to issue proceedings against them or secure an injunction.
When the time comes to sell your business or even seek further investment, the issue of trademarks will be addressed (intellectual property usually has a schedule to itself in the sale purchase agreement). If they are not in place, your business could be worth less. It could also cause alarm bells for potential investors or purchasers. I will always remember a Forbes article from 2011 which claimed that the trademark ‘Google’ attributed to 27% of the firm's overall value and was worth an estimated $44 billion (measured by market capitalization). Trademarks cannot be underestimated.
The relative cost of registering a trademark is small and a registration will offer you protection for 10 years.
For further information, contact Emily Steed, an assistant solicitor in the Company and Commercial team at Crombie Wilkinson:
Telephone: 01904 624185