Five reasons why you should register your trade mark
Why do I need to register my trade mark?
Many clients ask this question, and wonder why they are at a disadvantage by simply using their trade mark, as opposed to going through the trade mark registration process.
The fact is, if you have chosen a great name, then it’s likely that as your success builds, someone else will think it’s a great name too. The risks of not registering are real. If you don’t register your trade mark, then someone else probably will.
It also pays to register straightaway – don’t procrastinate. The expense is relatively minimal when compared to how costly the problem becomes down the line if you have to resort to a ‘passing off ‘ legal action
The top five reasons why you should register your trade mark:
1) An exclusive right
A trade mark registration gives you an exclusive right to use your mark in the territory (e.g. UK or EU) in which protection is granted. You may sue other parties for trade mark infringement if they use your mark without your permission.
Trade marks must be renewed every 10 years in the UK. If they are renewed at the appropriate time, you have a right which lasts in perpetuity.
2) To avoid the uncertainty and expense of relying on passing off
If you do not register your trade mark, it is still possible to take action against another party on the basis of ‘passing off’. This is a common law right, and to be successful you must prove:
- You have goodwill/ reputation in the trade mark
- The other party has made an actionable misrepresentation
- This has caused you damage.
Unlike trade mark infringement, where you can point to the existence of a registration certificate as proof of your rights, passing off is difficult and therefore costly to prove. Such actions are potentially far beyond the budget of most companies. You may find that if you cannot enforce your trade mark, you may have to give it up, perhaps after years of trading.
Your rights through passing off may be confined to your local area, where you have been using your trade mark. You may have great goodwill and reputation in Kent, but that will not necessarily enable you to stop someone else using the trade mark in, say, Hampshire where you are not known. Registration of your trade mark, on the other hand, is on a national basis (or across the European Union, if you have an EU Trade mark).
3) To add value to your business
A registered trade mark is your intellectual property and is a tradable commodity. It has value. You can:
- Sell it.
Having a registered trade mark it is essential if you wish to bring in investors to your company or potential buyers. They will insist that you have protected your intellectual property.
- Licence it.
A trade mark licence allows your trade mark to be used by a new business partner in return for a licence fee.
- Franchise it.
You can set up a network of franchisees, placing resposibilities on them as to how your trade mark should be used.
- Mortgage it.
Your trade mark may be used as security for a loan.
Your trade mark should be part of your ‘branding story’, attracting customers in its own right. As a minimum your trade mark adds credibility, which enables greater sales, and increased profits.
4) Trade marks identify origin
One of the main purposes of a trade mark is to prevent confusion in the marketplace. Your trade mark tells your customers who you are, and where to return to if they like your product.
Your trade mark, being a key part of your overall brand, is a valuable marketing and advertising tool. It sets you apart and helps to avoids customer confusion, especially important if your competitors are producing inferior or defective products.
5) Counterfeit goods
Having a trade mark registration helps Trading Standards Officers or the police to bring charges against counterfeiters if they are using your trade mark.
Ward Trade Marks specialises in trade mark registration and protection. If you need help to register and protect your trade mark please contact us using the easy form below. Either Rachael or Bill Ward will get back to you straightaway.