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UK Trade Marks

17 February 2016

A trade mark registration for a business, brand or product name, a logo, slogan or other trade mark provides a business with the most effective form of protection against a competitor making improper use of its trade mark. Whilst a trade mark might be capable of being protected through other areas of the law, such as passing off, copyright or design right, registering a trade mark has a number of important benefits.

Trade mark registration

Registration acts as prima facie proof of the proprietor’s entitlement to the trade mark. If a third party believes that it has a better right to a trade mark than the proprietor, it will have to apply to the UK Trade Mark Registry (“Registry”) to have it declared invalid and will have a number of procedural and evidential hurdles to overcome.

The registered trade mark device ® indicates to the world at large that the trade mark has achieved registration and accordingly, the trade mark will be protected under the Trade Marks Act 1994. If a trade mark has not been registered, it is a criminal offence to use the ® device.

Importantly, registration for a trade mark can be obtained for a trade mark before it is used, provided that there is an actual intention to use the trade mark, therefore protecting a trade mark pre-launch.

An action for trade mark infringement can be brought without proof that the proprietor has suffered any damage to the reputation in its trade mark.

Filing an application means that the details of the trade mark are kept on a central register. Most businesses when assessing whether to adopt a new trade mark conduct trade mark searches to ensure that no trade mark complications are likely to arise. Consequently, it is likely that any third parties which might otherwise unwittingly make use of the trade mark will be alerted to its existence.

Unlike other forms of intellectual property protection, registered trade mark protection can last indefinitely provided renewal fees are paid.

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