Trademark, trade mark, or (to be confusing) trade-mark.

All three variations are valid, so why so many? Why can’t there be just one correct way of writing it?

That could be too simple. The English language is a complicated beast, especially when you consider the number of countries that use it. Therefore, it’s hardly surprising there are a number of variations in the format of the word trade mark.

How should you write trademark, trade mark, and trade-mark?

The answer to that conundrum comes down to where you are in the world.

As a UK-based trade mark attorney firm, we favour the two-word representation. However, to help clarify things for you we’ve listed the origin of each form.

  • Trademark –America and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) use this singular form
  • Trade mark –the word format is the British way of doing things
  • Trade-mark – this hyphenated version is Canadian

So you see, in practice, they all mean the same thing, it merely depends on where you are in the world as to which format you use. Confusingly, Australia uses all three!

How did trade marks (trademarks, trade-marks) start?

For hundreds of years, traders have placed symbols (™ or ®) on their goods to show their origin. It helps us, the consumers, to buy knowing we are receiving original goods.

There have been cases in the UK of trade mark use as far back as the reign of James I – that’s over 400 years ago.

The first comprehensive Trade Marks Registration Act dates back to 1875. This made it possible to register trade marks for goods. The first registered mark under this act was in the name of Bass, Ratcliff & Gretton (still in force today under the name of Brandbrew S.A.)

However, services couldn’t be trade marked until 1986.

It’s the same protection no matter the format

Whichever format you use, a registered trade mark is still the best protection you can get for your brand and intellectual property.

Regardless of the size of your business, keeping your primary asset (your brand) safe should be paramount.

By registering your trade mark (trademark, trade-mark), you gain:

  • Exclusive rights for the use of your trade mark in the territory in which it is registered
  • You don’t have to rely on passing off, which can be costly to prove. Instead, you have the legal protection of infringement
  • Additional value to your brand because you can sell, license, franchise, and mortgage your registered trade mark
  • Identification of the origin of your product or service, avoiding marketplace confusion
  • Protection from counterfeiters

By registering your trade mark from the outset, it is protected. As your business and reputation grow, you can prevent someone else from attempting to cash in on your success by using your mark or a similar one.

Your business, reputation, and intellectual property are safeguarded.

It would be madness not to register your trade mark, trademark, or trade-mark.

Whether you prefer trade mark, trademark, or trade-mark, register your brand for full legal protection. For more information about how to do this:

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