What is a trade mark – some idiot pointers

1. You will often see the reference to a ‘trade mark or to a ‘brand’ which both mean the same thing, that is, a way of saying ‘ this is mine hands off! Or ‘I made this.’
2. Today a trade mark can be a word, a logo, a package, a jingle, a label, anything which is considered to be distinctive.
3. You will see many well known brands that carry the tm symbol. This has no specific legal weight but suggests to the user that it is a trade mark or brand.
4. The correct way of referring to a trade mark is by using (R) above the brand. Do not do so if your mark is unregistered as you will be committing a legal offence.
5. There are three types of trade marks

• A word only; ie NIKE, LAWDIT, RBS. A word only is precisely that. A word which is written down in plain ordinary type.
• A word logo ( or device); ie NIKE with the swoosh or McDonalds with the symbol. Usually anything that is stylised or contains a word in a stylised format or a word with a logo combined.
• A logo ( device) only ie Swoosh. That is a mark which contains no words.

A trade mark grants you a monopoly for the mark in relation to the goods and services for which you sought protection. As its a monopoly, its a powerful right and without which you will need to rely on common law protection and in particular the laws of passing off. Passing off is difficult to establish and expensive.

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