Losing your trade mark is a real possibility if you’re not careful.
If you thought that once registered, you had it for life, think again.
The cancellation, or revoking of your trade mark, can happen if you don’t use it within five years of its registration date, or its use has been suspended for a continuous period of five years.
Proving you’ve used your trade mark
By the term ‘genuine use’, we mean a real commercial use of the trade mark within the marketplace, such as launching and selling your goods or services (creating a market share), or in some cases getting ready to go to market, for example through an advertising campaign prior launch.
Therefore, proof of use would be:
- Copies of the items for which the mark is being used
- Details of the sales achieved (including turnover)
- Invoices and other financial documents
- Examples of how the trade mark is used on packaging and in adverts
So, if you don’t want to lose your trade mark, make sure you can prove its use.
Who can apply to revoke it?
The simple answer to that is anyone.
All they have to do, if they believe there are grounds for revocation, is to complete form TM26(N) for non-use, or TM26(O) for any other reason.
What other grounds can result in you losing your trade mark?
There are two other situations in which your trade mark can be revoked. They are if it has become a common name. An example of this is the name HOOVER. Once a trade mark, it has now become synonymous with a vacuum cleaner, therefore becoming generic.
The other is if you are misleading the public. In particular regarding the quality, nature, or geographical origin of the product. For example, if it implies a commercial connection to another company when there is none, claiming goods are ‘organic’ or ‘vegan’ when they are not, etc.
Holding on to your trade mark
One important thing to do is make sure your trade mark is registrable before you begin; that way you will avoid any objections to your application.
After that, it’s down to you to maintain your trade marks and make sure you are:
- Putting them to good use and genuinely using them
- In possession of evidence to prove their use
- Not selling any goods/services that aren’t covered by the registration
- Using your trade marks in their correct format
- The registered proprietor of the mark, or if not, that you have an appropriate licence
- Only using them within the country of registration
It’s a lot to think about and a huge responsibility because it relates to the security of your intellectual property.
Of course, you can always get professional help with your trade marks by using the services of a Chartered Trade Mark Attorney. At least that way you’ll know losing your trade mark is unlikely and that your marks and reputation are in good hands.