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Albright IP Limited
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17:53 08 Mar 22
Absolutely excellent... Clear, detailed and prompt responses with no sales... pressure at all.No upselling for their fee either, just a fair, professional appraisal...Thanks to Allbright, I am not spending thousands on a low hope project (when I so easily could have been).read more
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Do I have to identify the designer?
It is possible to waive the name of the designer when filing a European Community Design, but you should be sure that you have the rights to the design

TRADE MARKS

Albright IP is a firm of qualified UK and European Trade Mark attorneys. We specialise in trade mark registration in a simple, proactive and cost effective way. We will work with you to protect your brand name, logo, company name or corporate identity, and we actively encourage dialogue and provide support to you throughout the brand development process.

Please see our introductory video below. If you already have brand name in mind, please contact us with details of your brand and associated goods/services for free no-obligation initial advice.

TRADE MARK OVERVIEW

What is a trade mark?

A trade mark is a sign that identifies your business, products or services and sets them apart from others. This might be a brand name or a logo, for example. Note that it could also be made up of words, letters, numbers and slogans.

If you use or are about to commence use of a Trade Mark, you should consider protecting it by registration.

Why should I register my trade mark?

A trade mark is a valuable business asset and should be protected strongly from the outset. Registration is the only way to ‘ring fence’ your brand. A registered trade mark can be used to prevent unauthorised third party use of an identical or confusingly similar trade mark, known as infringement.

Note that registration provides immediate monopoly rights, even before the trade mark has been used. It is evidence of your ownership of the brand name in relation to specified goods and/or services. In contrast, unregistered rights in a brand name are often not available until a trade mark has been used extensively or for a considerable period of time. Therefore, registration provides strong monopoly rights against others using a brand name that is too close to yours, causing customer confusion and damaging your business.

At Albright IP, we can register your brand names and logos in a cost-effective way. We will recommend a strategy to provide protection in the countries or territories that you need. Please feel free to contact us for some free initial advice.

What if I’ve already registered my company name?

It is a common misconception that registering your company name at Companies House protects your name. This is not the case. Company name registration simply prevents registration of another identical company name at Companies House. It does not prevent another party from using or registering an identical or similar trade mark or brand name, nor does it give you the monopoly right to defend against this. Only trade mark registration provides this protection.

Similarly, do not fall into the trap of thinking that company name, domain name and trade mark registration are the same. These three registers are completely different. Company name and domain name registration do not give rise to monopoly rights in a brand name, only trade mark registration does this.

Where can I get advice on trade marks?

Located in Cheltenham, UK, our experienced UK and European attorneys are able to advise on all areas of trade mark law, including:

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Trade mark searching and clearance

Before you begin using a particular trade mark, it is advisable to search for other registered marks to check that you won’t be infringing someone else’s rights.

It is usually best to do this before you decide on a particular trade mark, so that you aren’t forced to re-brand at a later stage, which can be time-consuming and relatively expensive.

For more information, please see the following article relating to searching and clearance. Alternatively, please contact us by calling +44 (0) 1242 691 801 to speak with one of our qualified UK and European attorneys.

Registrability of your trade mark

In general, a trade mark needs to be new, distinctive and non-descriptive (of the relevant goods or services) to be registrable. However, there are some exclusions based on how similar the mark is to existing marks, and if the mark does not distinguish your goods and services from those originating elsewhere, it is unlikely to be considered registrable.

For more information, please see the following article relating to registrability. Alternatively, please contact us by calling +44 (0) 1242 691 801 to speak with one of our qualified UK and European attorneys.

Advantages of registering your trade mark

A trade mark registration has many advantages, including:

  • Safeguarding your investment in your brand name and corporate identity
  • Preventing others from using an identical or confusingly similar trade mark, in relation to overlapping and/or related goods or services
  • Providing more easily enforceable protection than unregistered trade marks – although unregistered trade marks exist via the common law of passing off, these take time to establish and are often expensive and difficult to enforce
  • Evidence of brand ownership
  • Stopping others from registering your trade mark or a similar trade mark, and preventing them from continuing to use of your trade mark

Furthermore, a trademark registration is an asset of your business that can be transferred (assigned) or licensed for money. It is also important if you wish to franchise, and increases brand value.

For more information, please contact us by calling +44 (0) 1242 691 801 to speak with one of our qualified UK and European attorneys.

Filing strategy in the UK, EU and worldwide

Your trade mark filing strategy will depend on where are doing business around the world, and where you expect to expand to in future. This is because trade marks are territorial, so separate registered trade marks are needed for each country or region for which protection is required.

However, registered trade marks can be revoked for non-use, for example, so it is not as simple as just registering your mark in as many countries as possible.

For more information, please see the following article relating to filing strategies. Alternatively, please contact us by calling +44 (0) 1242 691 801 to speak with one of our qualified UK and European attorneys.

Filing and defending trade mark oppositions

If you have applied for a registered trade mark, another party may bring an opposition action against your application if they think your trade mark is too similar to one of their trade marks, for example. You would then need to overcome the points raised during opposition in order to attain registration.

Alternatively, it may be that you own a trade mark and find that another party has applied for a trade mark which is confusingly similar to your own. In this case, a good option is to file an opposition to try and prevent the other mark becoming registered

Whichever scenario you find yourself in, Albright IP can advise and guide you through the whole opposition process.

For more information, please see the following article relating to trade mark opposition. Alternatively, please contact us by calling +44 (0) 1242 691 801 to speak with one of our qualified UK and European attorneys.

Filing and defending invalidation actions

Whilst a trade mark application can proceed to registration, it may still be invalid. In other words, there may be good reason why the mark should never have been registered in the first place, and this can make the mark vulnerable to invalidation.

Invalidation is based on the grounds that the mark is inherently unregistrable, either because it is too similar to an existing mark, or that it meets one of the criteria for exclusion. This is not always clear-cut, but we can advise on the merits of an invalidation action if you provide us with full details of your situation.

For more information, please see the following article relating to trade mark invalidation. Alternatively, please contact us by calling +44 (0) 1242 691 801 to speak with one of our qualified UK and European attorneys.

Filing and defending revocation actions

Following registration of a trade mark, it can be possible to have the mark revoked later for one of several reasons.

A common reason for revoking a registered trade mark is due to ‘non-use’ during the 5 years post-dating registration. Examples of other reasons include the mark having become a common name in the trade for the goods and/or services it is registered for, or that use of the mark is deceptive in some way, relating to the geographical origin of goods, for example.

For more information, please contact us by calling +44 (0) 1242 691 801 to speak with one of our qualified UK and European attorneys.

Trade mark, domain name and company name watching

Albright IP offers ‘watching’ services which allow you to keep track of third party applications and registrations relating to trade marks, domain names or company names similar to your own.

If it turns out that another company is trying to register a name or brand which is overly similar to your own, having a watching service in place gives you the chance to take preventative action at the earliest possible opportunity. This in turn enables you to maintain your brand identity, and avoid others encroaching on or benefiting from your established brand.

For more information, please contact us by calling +44 (0) 1242 691 801 to speak with one of our qualified UK and European attorneys.

Trade mark infringement

It is possible that, once you have a registered trade mark, a third party will begin infringing your mark. This does not always entail ‘direct’ infringement, where someone uses an identical copy of your logo or brand. The scope of protection of a registered trade mark also covers ‘confusingly similar’ marks, so infringement can also occur where a third party mark is similar to yours.

Examples of infringing acts include affixing the trade mark to goods or their packaging, selling goods or supplying services under the trade mark, importing/exporting goods under the trade mark, and using the trade mark on promotional material or in advertising.

For more information, please see the following article relating to trade mark infringement. Alternatively, please contact us by calling +44 (0) 1242 691 801 to speak with one of our qualified UK and European attorneys.

Passing off

The law of ‘passing off’ is used to protect unregistered trade marks. This stops one party from misrepresenting their goods or services as those of another.

In order to succeed in a passing off action, it must be shown that:
1) there is ‘goodwill’ in the unregistered mark,
2) that the third party goods/services are being misrepresented as those of the owner of the unregistered mark (even if unintentional), and
3) that there has been (or is likely to be) damage as a result of that misrepresentation.

It can be more difficult to defend unregistered trade marks as opposed to registered trade marks. For more information, please contact us by calling +44 (0) 1242 691 801 to speak with one of our qualified UK and European attorneys.

Licensing, assignments and recordal

It is possible to license or transfer a trade mark from one person (or company) to another. Licensing permits another party to use the mark, e.g. selling products bearing the mark, without infringing. In return, the trade mark owner can receive a royalty, for example. Assignment transfers the trade mark to another party, and the previous owner no longer holds the trade mark.

Different types of licenses are possible, and the terms can be negotiated according to the value of the trade mark (or trade mark portfolio). Trade mark assignments normally transfer all of the trade mark rights from one party (the ‘assignor’) to the other (the ‘assignee’). Licenses and assignments should be recorded at the relevant Trade Mark Office once finalised.

For more information, please see the following articles relating to licensing and assignments. Alternatively, please contact us by calling +44 (0) 1242 691 801 to speak with one of our qualified UK and European attorneys.

If you need further information on trade marks, please contact our team. You can use the enquiry form on the left hand side of this page, or e-mail Katie Oliver or Julia House for a free initial search and advice.

What else should I know about IP protection?

In addition to advising on Trade Marks for your brand image and company, we can provide free initial advice regarding Patents for your inventions, Registered Designs to protect the appearance of your products, and Copyright to cover your literature, artwork and graphic design.

Whether you are an inventor, designer, entrepreneur or business, Albright IP can help you stay ahead of your competitors by protecting your new designs, products and trade names in a thorough, proactive and cost effective way.

Our firm provides a personal service, puts our clients first and has a strategy to support your enterprise. We are here to protect your creative vision, innovation and investment, through domestic, European and international filings.

If you would like further information, please contact us on +44 (0) 1242 691 801 to speak to one of our qualified UK and European attorneys.