Protection of trademarks and logos in the United Kingdom

Trademarks are used to distinguish the goods and / or services of one company sold by other companies in the UK and around the world. Your logo can take the form of an emblem, symbol, insignia or shield; it can also be a shape. The decisions to be made are whether to (1) make the effort to register the logo, (2) make the effort to do it yourself, or (3) hire outside consultants to manage the process for you.

In the UK, there is no legal requirement for your company to register logos or any other trade name or trademark used to identify your company to the public. As long as a company has sufficient turnover, sales expenses, and marketing activity, companies can turn to the Counterfeiting Act to protect their business.

The difficulty with this approach is that your business will need to demonstrate that it has the required level of goodwill and reputation in the marketplace that justifies logo protection. It is not an easy feat for start-ups.

Also, as long as the logo qualifies for copyright protection (as an artistic work), then copyright can be relied upon to protect the logo (this copyright protection is spread globally by individual countries implementing national laws that comply with the provisions of the Berne Convention, which includes the UK). There are downsides to this approach, because (1) there is no public record available for inspection by other companies to determine whether or not your logo is protected in Europe or the UK, and (2) copyright ownership must be demonstrated in each case.

Register

Trademarks appear in public records that can be searched by any member of the public with an Internet-enabled device.

Once in the Registry, competitors who get too close to copying your logo can be directed to the Registry and warned of illegal competition caused by using a logo too similar to your company. It is easier to prevent unfair competition by registering a logo or trade name.

What does the registry give me?

Trademarks registered in the United Kingdom and Europe (as well as in the United States) give the owner a legal monopoly to use them in respect of the products and / or services in which they are registered. For example, if your business sells shoes, registering the logo would protect any other merchant in the relevant country from using your logo. Because trademarks are awarded on a country-by-country basis (with the main exemption in Europe from the community trademark, which provides protection in European Union countries), no other company can use the trade name to sell shoes without your permission. . You can prevent other companies from using your logo and take legal action to prevent them from doing so in the future.

Search before use

The Trademark Registry offers other benefits. Before adopting a logo, it makes sense to find out if there is another company that is using a similar trademark in the countries where you intend to do business. If you use a trademark registered by another company without their permission in another country, you will infringe on their trademark and they can prevent you from doing so.

Many companies believe that because a company name does not appear on the Companies House website, or the domain name is not used, it is okay to use it. This is not the case. It is the Trademark Registry in the countries you trade with that dictates who has the exclusive right to use trade names and logos, rather than whether a company has registered under the same name or whether the domain name is in use. .

Also, once your trademark is registered, if another company requests a logo that is too similar, you can object to that other company’s request to prevent your logo from being registered.

conclusion

Rather than entering international markets and hoping for the best, it makes business sense to determine where the risks lie with regard to the use of logos and other trade names to avoid trademark infringement in the countries in which the company is marketed.

It is one thing to have a strong brand and quite another to be in a position to assert the best legal rights available to protect it. International trademark protection can be obtained through a single trademark application in the UK, which applies to the whole of Europe.

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