A Quick Guide to Trademark Registration in the UK
Your brand name, logo or theme song can define your business and may eventually become a valuable asset in its own right. It makes sense for business owners and entrepreneurs to do everything they can to stop unscrupulous third parties from copying their intellectual property.
Registering a trademark is one of the best ways that you can protect the interests of your business and ensure your branding is unique. In this article, we will give you a quick guide on the process of trademark registration and explain why it is so important for your business.
Why Trademark Registration Matters for Your Business
So, why should you bother to register a brand name, logo or an image as a trademark? Simply put, registering a trademark will stop others from stealing your intellectual property and unfairly benefiting from your hard work.
Trademark registration provides business owners with the right to take legal action against anyone who is misusing a trademark or trying to register a trademark that is too similar to their own. In some cases, a business may find it more difficult to expand without a registered trademark. Potential investors, for instance, may not wish to back your business if it does not have a registered trademark.
Trademark registration has the following benefits for a business:
- Protection from the misuse of branding
- Protection from too similar brands being registered
- Builds value and brand recognition
- Increases customer confidence
What You Can and Cannot Register as a Trademark
Not everything can be legally registered as a trademark. What can and cannot be registered as a trademark in the UK is overseen by the Intellectual Property Office.
To qualify as registered, your mark must be unique and contain one or all of the following:
It is not possible to register trademarks that contain:
- Offensive words or inappropriate imagery
- Descriptions of the goods or services that the trademark relates to
- Any misleading words or images
- Generic or common statements or shapes
- National flags or other official hallmarks or emblems
Steps to Trademark Registration
The first step in the trademark registration process is to check that your desired trademark is not already taken and that it is not too similar to another registered trademark. You can search for other trademarks via the Intellectual Property Office’s website.
Next, you will need to visit the UK government’s website: www.gov.uk. Here, you can begin the online process of applying to register your trademark. Application forms can also be downloaded and sent to the Intellectual Property Office by post.
The registration process requires you to submit:
- Your name or the name of the company registering the trademark
- Your address and contact details
- The basic format of the trademark
- A more detailed format of your trademark
You will have to choose whether you are registering a single trademark or wish to register a series of trademarks. You will also have to decide what class of trademark you are registering. If the application is being submitted online, you can search for your class using relevant keywords. However, it is crucial that you choose the right trademark class, so you may wish to seek advice from a lawyer to ensure you make the correct choice.
The application form also asks whether or not you wish to file a disclaimer. Most trademark applications will not require a disclaimer but it is a good idea to get legal advice if you are unsure.
Applicants will need to choose whether they want to submit a priority claim as opposed to a normal claim filing. This is only an option if you have applied for a trademark in a country other than the UK within the last six months. If this is the case, then proof of the international trademark application will be required.
An applicant will need to choose what type of trademark they wish to register, whether it is a standard trademark, a collective mark or a certification mark. Only trade associations can register collective marks while certification marks are used to show that the goods or services meet a certain standard.
Then, you need to choose whether you want a Standard trademark examination or a Right Start trademark examination. Lastly, you will be asked to review all the information you have given to ensure it is correct. If so, you can then submit the application online or send it by post.
It can take up to three months for a trademark to be approved. The process is so lengthy because an application must be published in the trademark journal and it may be challenged once it is open to the public. If your application is challenged, you may wish to seek legal advice.
What it Costs to Register a Trademark
The standard cost of registering a trademark is £170 paid upfront. This amount is non-refundable. If you are applying under the Right Start scheme, then you can pay £100 up front and then another £100 after the trademark is approved. If it is rejected, then you do not have to pay the remaining £100. If you are submitting trademarks under multiple classes, you must pay an additional £50 per class. These figures are current at the time of writing.
Like registering a limited company or a limited partnership, registering a trademark is an important step in setting up a business. Once you have registered your business and your trademark, Mooncard can help you to keep your accounts in proper order. Mooncard makes it simple to stay on top of your accounting. Mooncard ensures that all of your business expenses are tracked in real-time and kept as an easy-to-access digital record.
To learn just how Mooncard can streamline your accounting systems, book a free, no-obligation online demonstration today!