A trade mark is a sign that you apply to your goods or services to distinguish them from those of your competitors. It is the ‘badge of origin’ of your business, and can include the name of your business and its products and services, any logos and pictures that you use, or a combination of these.

As well as protecting your brand, a trade mark can be used as a useful marketing tool to enable customers to recognise your products or services.

A trade mark should be registered since it will be easier and cheaper to protect than an unregistered mark, and can be dealt with as ‘property’.If your mark is unregistered, you will only be able to enforce your rights in it if you have an established reputation in the mark and someone has misrepresented their goods as yours, causing you loss. If you have a registered mark, you can take action against them for trade mark infringement even before you have used the mark or established any reputation in it.

A registered mark can be dealt with as any other property and can be licensed, mortgaged and sold, etc. This makes it easy to transfer it between businesses, and if you don’t want to use it, you can charge someone else for using it by licensing it to them for royalties. A registered trade mark adds value to your business.

Practical steps: You can obtain a registered trade mark in the UK by applying to the Trade Marks Registry, which is part of the UK Intellectual Property Office, and is based in Newport, Wales.

Content provided by Briffa.

Image: Antoine Langenieux-Villard: www.antoinelangenieuxvillard.com