If you have had a logo designed to ‘brand’ the goods and services of your business it should be registered as a trademark in order to ensure it is protected, and that you are granted the right to actually use that logo!
What is a trademark?
A trademark is any ‘sign’ that a person or businesses uses to distinguish their goods or services from those sold by other people; a “badge of origin” if you will – the distinctive element that allows consumers to recognise a particular product or service as belonging to a particular entity. A trademark can be a word/name, image, logo, slogan, sound, colour, shape, aspect of packaging or even a smell, so long as it is capable of distinguishing the goods/services.
What is a registered trademark?
Essentially, it’s a protected version of the above. The owner of a registered trademark has several rights that are not obtained elsewhere:
- The right to use the registered trademark on the goods and/or services they nominate in the application;
- The right to authorize others to use that trademark on those goods and/or services;
- The right to take action against people found to be infringing those rights
In addition to the main benefits or rights listed above, registering your logo (or other distinctive ‘sign’) as a trademark can offer further benefits to you or your business:
- Add value to your business if you ever wish to sell. A trademark is a saleable business asset;
- Add professionalism to your business. Once a trademark is registered the owner may promote it as registered, including by use of the ® symbol, which often conveys professionalism, trustworthiness and longevity to consumers;
- Avoid others taking infringement action against you for unauthorized use of a trademark. Without registration you may be inadvertently in breach of someone else’s rights, which can cost a substantial amount of money to fight.
How do you register a trademark?
Trademarks are registered mostly on a country-by-country basis. The rights in registration exist within the country or countries where the trademark has been registered. Whilst each country has its own trademark laws in force, the general process is the same across most:
- Where possible conduct trademark searches to ensure the name or logo is available, or engage professional search companies to do this for you;
- If the search is clear, or you elect not to search first, an application is filed before the relevant office in the chosen country;
- The Office will examine the application and advise whether the trademark is approved for registration or if issues are standing in its way;
- If no issues are presented then the mark will likely go through an opposition period to allow other parties the opportunity to object;
- If no objections are filed the mark can become registered
How long does trademark protection last?
Again, this will depend on the country in question. Most countries these days grant trademark registration for 10 years initially with the option to renew every 10 years.
How much does it cost to register a trademark?
This will vary greatly depending on the country in question. It will also likely depend on the type of products or services you wish your trademark to be protected in relation to. Most countries follow a particular class system, with each class covering a particular type of product or service and with fees apply per class required. The costs will also depend on whether you seek professional assistance with your registration (which is strongly encouraged) or whether you attend to your own trademark application. Furthermore, each professional services company will charge different fees.
The cost to register a trademark in most countries will be far less than the cost of trying to defend against infringement claims made against you and far less than the cost of trying to stop someone using the same/similar name or logo if you don’t have trademark registration in place.
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