Trade mark searches are vital so don’t treat them lightly.

Regardless of your entrepreneurial spirit, unerring faith in your abilities (even in areas where you have no formal training), and Scrooge-like attitude to professional fees, it is vital you employ a trade mark professional to undertake all aspects of your Intellectual Property protection.

By the way, that’s not blustering on our part because we’re touting for your business. On the contrary, the last thing we want to see is businesses who’ve decided to go it alone only to lose money and reputation because they didn’t know what they were doing.

Let’s start at the beginning.

It starts with a trade mark search

Meet Dave. He is our hypothetical entrepreneur who has a somewhat jaundiced view of professionals. In his mind, professionals are over-priced and poor value. After all, anyone can undertake a search. He’s so confident in his abilities he’s doing it himself.

A few minutes on Google shows him there’s nothing else like his proposed trade mark in use. Feeling smug at the money he’s saving, he blindly proceeds with his trade mark application (after all, it’s only a bit of form filling).

What Dave doesn’t realise is that the wheels are about to fall off in spectacular style.

The consequences of a poor search

An inadequate search means Dave’s choice of trade mark is fundamentally flawed, leaving him in a weak position should he come up against an opponent.

Without taking proper guidance, the trade mark Dave chooses is too generic and likely to be refused on absolute grounds.

Not only is his choice poor, but the specification he’s using is also weak, resulting in sub-optimal rights. However, Dave’s not worried about the odd opposition to his application. After all, he’s a master at negotiation so he’ll easily be able to reach a compromise. He’s wrong on that count too because trade mark law is a complex beast that only a professional can tame.

So far, Dave’s not doing well.

Realising he’s leaving himself wide open, he finally turns to a professional trade mark attorney to do a ‘patch job.’ You see, in Dave’s view this situation will easily be remedied, and he’ll still end up saving himself money.

Boy is he going to be disappointed.

Forget DIY SOS, the only way this situation can be remedied is to start over.

Go pro from day one

This is one occasion when Dave should have swallowed his pride and instructed a professional attorney.

By getting early advice, Dave would have been able to build a plan for his IP protection that would be worth its weight in gold. Being a fluid situation, his professional advisor will adapt to circumstances as they happen. This agility will ensure the acceptance of Dave’s application in the shortest time possible.

You see, even Dave’s vast intellect can’t make him an expert in trade mark law overnight and his bullish determination to do it himself was always going to end in disaster.

Don’t be like Dave. Make sure you treat your trade mark protection with the respect it demands. After all, it will be there to protect your growing business for many years to come (provided you renew your registration).

Ward Trade Marks Limited is a Bury St Edmunds-based specialist trade mark attorney firm.