A trademark is a form of intellectual property. Every business will have one or more trademarks, for example the company’s name, business name or the name of its products (if unique). The trademark for your company could be a symbol, logo, word or phrase. Once you have come up with the perfect trademark for your company or its product, in the UK you have the option of leaving it unregistered or to apply for registration of it. The trademark must be unique and distinctive in order too obtain registration. Once registered, the trademark must also be renewed every ten years or it will lapse.
If you register it, you gain 2 key advantages over unregistered trademarks:
- first, you have a date (the date of registration) from which you can easily prove you had the trademark (for unregistered trademarks, when enforcing them, you would need to prove when you first used it, which is not always easy); and
- second, having your mark registered, is (a) a greater deterrent to anyone who might deliberately breach it and (b) helps others not to breach it inadvertently, as they will be able to find it on the register if they search the register before deciding on what trademark to use for their business or product.
Both of these advantages mean the cost of the trademark application is more than justified. When you are applying for a UK trademark, it is done through the Intellectual Property Office or IPO. You should use the online form the IPO supplies.
This website offers other trademark-related documents each of which comes with its own “how to” instructions. For example once you have created your trademark (whether it is registered or not), you can sell the trademark or license it to others. We provide the necessary legal document templates for this.
When using your trademark, you can let others know the status of your mark and that you are claiming the legal protection and respect for it, by using the following symbols:
- For an unregistered trademark, TM after the mark.
- For a registered trademark, ® after the mark.
Please note that using the ® symbol is an offence if your mark is not in fact registered, so be careful.