A trademark is a form of intellectual property (IP) protection, and can cover slogans, logos, names, images, sounds, and more.
Trademarks have been around, in some form or another, since 1266, when bakers were required to distinguish their bakes with a unique mark.
Trademark registration has been part of UK laws since 1875, when the Trademarks Registration Act was introduced.
The process has undoubtedly changed since then, but trademarks and their registration are still important today – perhaps even more so.
What makes IP eligible to trademark?
The intellectual property which you wish to trademark must be unique. There can be no similarities, beyond a small acceptable limit, to any other trademark.
Marks are registered in ‘classes,’ which help to categorise registered property by distinguishing the work sector that they typically trade within.
Trademarks in different classes can have similar names, but there should be no overlapping of similar trademarks within the same class.
Who can register a trademark?
Trademark holders can be an individual, business, group or organisation. There are two main trademark symbols:
™ is perhaps the most well-known trademark symbol, and is generally used by the company as a whole. This symbol can also be used for unregistered trademarks.
® on the other hand, is an indicator that the trademark is registered, and is a symbol that is intended for use by the trademark holder.
For your IP to be eligible, you must have the intention to commercialise your trademark once approved, or already be trading.
With Trademark House, you can register your trademark in the UK and the EU, depending on your goals.
Why should you register your trademark?
Brands use trademarks to protect their products and designs form infringement, but a trademark can also be beneficial for business deals.
Companies might be wishing to make collaborative or derivative works based upon a trademarked franchise, for example, and can set about making a deal with the trademark holder for a license to make products under both brand identities.
Though it is not necessary to trademark your ideas, registered trademarks often do better in the unfortunate circumstances of infringement.
Registration of a trademark provides proof of ownership, which can make all the difference in a court case. In fact, some places require trademarks to be registered in order for them to be recognised in the courts.
Can trademarks expire?
There is no expiry date on a trademark, unlike copyright, although in some cases you may be required to re-register it after a number of years.
Despite the lack of expiry, it is, however, possible for a trademark to be revoked. There are several reasons why this might be. One could be infringement. Or, it could be because the trademark has lost originality.
If a trademark has become too general, and is no longer recognisable as a unique brand, then the mark can be revoked.
Another common way that trademarks can be lost is through inactivity.
Trademarks can only protect your intellectual property for as long as they are in use. However, if there is a prolonged period of time where the trademarked IP is not in use, then it may cease to be protected.
Registering your trademark is a great way to protect your brand and ideas. For more information on how to register your trademark, visit our trademark registration page or get in touch via our contact form.