Trade mark protection is something which is often associated with large brands which enjoy a global presence. Many SMEs have traditionally believed that trade marks are something which cost too much to secure and maintain and have therefore decided they are not worth investing in. More and more small businesses are realising that trade mark protection costs less than they may have imagined and that the benefits it confers on a business mean the initial cost should be viewed as an investment rather than expenditure.
Building a brand
There are, unfortunately, a number of pitfalls to overcome before a business can seek to rely on its desired trade mark. Firstly, many businesses are keen to proceed with a trade mark which simply describes the goods or services they sell or sets out a quality of their goods. This presents two dangers firstly the trade mark is unlikely to meet the threshold for registration and will most likely be rejected and secondly, a descriptive name does nothing to help a brand stand out against the backdrop of its competitors. A good trade mark is distinctive and generally involves its owner having invested time and effort into creating their brand.
As well as helping your brand stand out before the public, a distinctive trade mark is less likely to be opposed or revoked. It is a common misconception that once granted, a trade mark will last forever. Notwithstanding the need to renew a trade mark every 10 years, any third party with an identical or similar mark for identical or similar goods can oppose a trade mark before it has been registered or apply for revocation after registration. Whilst it may be practically impossible to ensure there are no pre-existing unregistered rights before applying for registration, any risk is largely mitigated by a distinctive mark.
Enforcement of trade mark rights
A distinctive trade mark which helps your business stand out is a solid vehicle for growth. As market share increases, competitors will inevitably seek to emulate a business’ success without investing the same amount of time, effort or expenditure. A registered trade mark is something which can be relied on to ensure they don’t simply copy branding which is subject to trade mark protection. Enforcing rights is also much cheaper than most SMEs might think, as trade Â mark rights are seldom enforced through the courts. This means exercising rights in a registered trade mark is quicker and cheaper than many people imagine and is fraught with less complications than court proceedings.
Get in touch
Lawdit’s trade mark team have advised a range of clients over a number of years, from small start ups and SMEs to established high street brands. We understand the need to provide simple and straightforward advice which is both affordable and tailored to your individual needs. Get in touch if you would like to discuss your trade marks, or if you’re simply after more information on trade marks.
By Aasim Durrani. Aasim is a Trainee Solicitor and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org