Protect your UK trade marks

trademark I age

As you know, a trade mark is anything which allows consumers to distinguish your business and/or your goods or services from those of another.

It is the badge by which customers recognise your products or services in the marketplace. 

Many things can be registered as a trade mark. Names and logos are the most common of course.  The owner of a trade mark is granted exclusive use of that sign. Once in use, your trading reputation and goodwill will be attached to your business. This means your trade mark(s) are some of your most valuable assets for your business. It is a symbol of trust. 

Why should I register a trade mark?

Registering your trade mark gives you the exclusive right to use that mark for the goods or services for which it is registered.

Protecting your trade mark via a registration is important to protect your brand’s name and/or logo, and the goodwill and reputation associated with that branding for your business and distinguish your brand from your competitors.

Moreover, a successful registration provides you with statutory protection which gives you clear rights to enforce in the event of a third-party infringing upon your brand. 

An example of enforcing such rights can be seen in the 2022 case Monster Energy Company v Red Bull GmbH [2022] EWHC 2155 (Ch) (August 2022) case.

Monster Energy attempted to register the mark “Red Dawg” under covering non-alcoholic beverages (Class 32). Red Bull were successful in opposing this on the basis that the Red Bull mark has a reputation in the energy drink market, under S.5(3) Trade Marks Act 1994.

A registration can also sometimes act as a deterrent from others attempting to use your mark or create similar branding.

In the absence of a registration, an unregistered trade mark may only be protected under the common law of passing off. Unlike the statutory protection afforded by a trade mark registration, under the law of passing off it is necessary to actually prove that the trade mark has a reputation with associated “good will“, and that there has been confusion with consumers. This can be difficult and expensive to prove.

What if I’m selling my business?

Since a registered trade mark provides you with strong brand recognition, this can be valuable if you are considering selling your business. 

By registering your brand’s name and/or logo this can assist in strengthening your asset portfolio to potential buyers. 

You can even decide what you want to sell or retain as part of the overall business sale.  Devant is experienced in M&A and we can help you consider what to register in the context of your wider intellectual property considerations and business strategy as well as file an application to register your trade mark on your behalf.

Licensing your trade mark

If you wish to retain ownership of some or all or your trade marks but would like to permit use to a third party, you can simply license your trade mark to that party, via a trade mark licensing agreement. Such an agreement can assist you in setting out the parameters of the terms on which you wish the other party to use the trade mark, for how long and the fees you wish to charge the other party.

Sponsorship Agreements

If you wish to provide sponsorship, such as for an event using your company name and/or trade mark, you will retain ownership but can restrict the use via a sponsorship agreement in order to retain protection over your brand and your business reputation. If you’re planning to sponsor events, publications and any other media this year, get in touch with Devant for advice on sponsorship agreements.

How can Devant help?

As the UK operates a “first to file” system for registered trade marks it is therefore important to apply for your trade mark at the earliest opportunity. 

At Devant we can provide you with advice, file an application to register your UK trade mark on your behalf and guide you at each stage of the process.

If you wish to talk to the team at Devant for any further guidance on this or any other trade mark guidance, please contact us.