The Tribe Guide: Trademarking Your Brand
So, you’ve recently started a new entrepreneurial venture and business is going great. You’ve been networking like a boss (check out our guide to networking here), have established regular work habits and have even grown your client list to include a few returning customers. Congratulations on your success!
But wait! Someone has just pointed out that they almost mistook your brand for being a local competitor’s. You look into the matter, and sure enough, a new business in your area has just launched a website with a logo and colour scheme that looks similar to yours.
What should you do in this situation? Tell your competitors that you launched your brand first? Ask them to rebrand? Threaten to sue?
The best way to avoid getting yourself into this situation in the first place is to trademark your brand. Here’s why.
Why You Should Register to Trademark Your Brand
Registering your trademark will allow you to take legal action if someone uses your brand without your permission.
It will allow you to put the ® symbol next to your brand to show that its been trademarked and to discourage anyone else from using it.
Registering will allow you to sell and license your brand.
Registering Your Trademark
First, do some research to make sure that someone hasn’t already registered a trademark with the same name or branding. If this leads to the dreaded discovery that something similar to your brand has already been trademarked, then unfortunately, it’s back to the drawing board my friend.
UK trade marks can be applied for online, or posted to the Patent Office in Newport, South Wales. You can start your application process here: https://www.gov.uk/how-to-register-a-trade-mark
Registration at the Patent Office will protect your trademark in the UK only. If your business extends to Europe, you can obtain a Community Trade Mark which protects your mark for all EU countries (See below for information on registering an EU and/or international trademark).
If all goes smoothly (ie. there are no objections), the registration process takes about 4 months.
Registered trademarks last 10 years. After this, you will have to apply for renewal.
While most of the application can be done by yourself, many suggest obtaining expert advice, talking to a lawyer or someone who has completed the process before.
How Much Does it Cost to Register a Trademark?
The official fee for a UK registration is £200. A Community Trade Mark can be less than £1000.
It is important to note, that if you register a trade mark in the UK, this will only protect your brand in the UK. There are different processes for registering EU and international trade marks that you learn more about here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/protecting-your-uk-intellectual-property-abroad/protecting-your-trade-mark-abroad
And there you have it, our step-by-step guide to registering your brand.
Onward with your success!