If you’ve put a lot of thought, time and investment into building a brand then you should think about:
– Protecting the goodwill built up in your brand.
– Making it harder for competitors to copy you.
– Making your brand easier to sell, franchise or licence.
Trade marking can help in all these areas. A trade mark is a device (or marque) which distinguishes your goods and services from those of your competitors. Your trade mark can be words, logos or a combination of both.
We’ve recently been though the process and successfully trademarked our own logo for the UK market. So we can now use the R symbol with our logo as opposed to the TM symbol which anyone can use but offers no protection.
With distinctiveness being a crucial area of trade mark law, creativity in naming and logo design can greatly improve your chances of registration. You can search the Intellectual Property website and Google to avoid any obvious clashes but the more you look into it the less clear the answers become. This is where you need expert help – we used an iP specialist called Stobbs based in Cambridge.
There’s another big benefit of having your brand trade marked. New generic top level domains (gTLDs) have started to become available (since February). So instead of the usual .co.uk and .com etc there will things like .clothing .restaurant .nottingham etc. If your brand is trade marked you can register it at the Trademark Clearing House (operated by Deloitte) and you will get first refusal (lasting 60 days) to register a domain name in the new gTLDs as they become available. Over 5,000 trade marks have already been registered and approx 1,000 new gTLDs are planned.
With over 120 million registered .com domain names and over 10 million co.uk domains, web name space is running out! These new domain name extensions will get around this problem. In addition they will enable you to create a more relevant domain name for your brand – which in turn makes your brand easier to find on Google. So in the long run it’s good for business.