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Watch out! Is a competitor about to register your trade mark?

Watch out! Is a competitor about to register your trade mark?

Registering your trade mark is not the end of the road. A well thought out programme of enforcement will ensure that your rights are not diluted over time. It’s vital to look after your registered rights, or you may find that competitors come into the market with similar marks, diverting trade away from your business and losing you money.

At Ward, we seek to help our clients through a three step process: consultation, registration, and protection. How do we help to protect your brand? The first step is to monitor whether anyone else is using or applying to register your trade mark.

Trade marks can be “watched”. This process is carried out by specialist agencies who work on our behalf, running clever software which monitors whether the same or similar marks are filed in the name of another party.

The watching service can tell us at an early stage that a potentially infringing similar trade mark has been filed. Early alerts enable you to get your objection in at the earliest opportunity. Swift action is of advantage as the infringer may not yet have invested significant resources in their competing name. They can sometimes be more easily persuaded to change direction.

The watching service will also alert us when a trade mark is advertised. Don’t I already get this information, you ask? Well, if the trade mark is in the UK, the Office will advise you if they examine an application and find certain marks which they see as similar to your own.

However, under the way the system operates, the UK Office will advise prior rights holders of UK trade marks or International Registrations designating the UK. In other words, if you have a European Union mark, you will not be told that a potentially conflicting UK mark is being advertised. This is where a watching service comes into its own, as it provides this warning in good time.

Similarly, if you have a European Union trade mark, the EU Office will not advise you of national marks being applied for and registered. This means that UK marks which are the same or similar to your own may sneak on to the UK Register. I could write a whole blog about the implications of this, but to summarise, righting this wrong could be a costly headache which could have been avoided by having a watching service in place.

If you would like help in proactively monitoring your trade marks for competitor encroachment, we’re happy to provide details of our trade mark watching packages. For further information about Ward Trade Marks, please email Bill Ward: [email protected], or call Bill Ward on 01223 421779.

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October 7, 2016 Rachael share this article