Business Law

Introduction to Trademark Registration

Introduction

Trademarks are important for businesses as not only they differentiate the goods and services, but they also allow easy representation of the products itself which previously gave satisfaction. Trademarks are signs of quality. They carry goodwill, generate loyalty and are the main force behind repeat orders. 

Trademarks also represent the source and origin of the goods and services to which they are attached, for example, the consumer expects champagne to be a product of champagne region in France and bear a certain standard in taste and quality.

What is a Trademark?

A trademark is any mark, symbol or sign which can be represented graphically, and which differentiates the products, goods and services of one trader from any other. For example, coca-cola, Pepsi, Tesco, Walmart, Amazon, etc.

Registration of Trademarks in the UK

All type of business including new entrants needs to create signs and symbols which must represent them and then, more importantly, register them in the United Kingdom as soon as possible.

Any delay in registering the trade name, sign or symbol can lead to subsequent costly litigation, passing off of the name and loss in business.

Document Requirements for Registration

To register a mark in the United Kingdom, the owner of the mark must

  • fill in the registration form, which can be done online,
  • provide detailed information about the identity and address of the Applicant
  • provide a statement about the goods, or services in respect of which the mark is being registered
  • provide a graphic representation of the mark, for example, the way the coca-cola or Amazon is written
  • Pay the registration fee
  • Statement from the Applicant to confirm that the mark will be used in relation to goods and services.

Once the application is received and approved by the Trade Mark registration authorities, the mark will be published in the  Trade Mark Journal, which enables other parties to have the opportunity to examine the mark, and if they fee that their trademark is infringed then oppose the newly registered mark.

It is important to note that any objection to the registration of the mark must be lodged within 3 months from the date of publication in the Journal.

It normally takes around 4 months’ time to register a mark in the United Kingdom. The same mark can also be registered in the EU. However, for every mark, the applicant must submit a separate application.

Validity of the Trademark

A trademark once registered is valid for 10 years, then renewable for another 10 years, so on and so forth.

What can be included in the Trademark?

A mark can be a combination of many things, for example, words, shape, style, font size, font category, colour, slogan, even sounds and smells.

Colour

Registration of Colour as a trademark is possible provided, it fulfils the requirement i.e., capable to distinguish the good and services and can be represented graphically. When registering the colour it is advisable to use or provide a sample and use a reputable colour referencing system such as Pantone.

Slogans

These can also be registered provided they fulfil the criteria set out above.

Shapes

After the famous battle in trademarks, Coca Cola Trade Mark Application, it is possible to register shapes as trademarks provided the shape does not give substantial value to the products or goods in itself, and the shape is not necessary to obtain a technical result.

Sounds and Smells

Registration of sounds and smells are the difficult areas of trademark registration. The problem with them is how would they satisfy the requirement of that “the mark is capable of graphical representation?

Some applicants found it useful to include musical notations for sounds and a chemical equation for smells along with the description of the sound and smell. It is worth noting that the description provided must be clear, unambiguous. Further, the mark must also be self-contained, easily accessible, intelligible and objective.

The Trademark Registry has issued a practice notice on sound marks, which provides a practical example to register sound marks.

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Disclaimer​

While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information provided in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. Each legal case and issue may have unique facts and circumstances, as a result legallex does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information provided. For further help and guidance, you can always rely on and seek advice from our experienced lawyers.

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