What is a Trademark?

A trademark, according to the UK Intellectual property office, is defined as “a sign which can distinguish your goods and services from those of your competitors.” It is used as a badge of origin to help identify products and services and the owner can be a business organisation, an individual or any legal entity. They are often found on labels, packages, vouchers or the product itself. You will often see them on company buildings for the sake of corporate identity, they can take many forms, such as: colours, sounds, logos, shapes, slogans, words or a combination of these elements.

They are registered for specific goods or services known as “classes” of which there are 45 classes in total, 34 for goods, 11 for services. It is possible for trademarks to be similar or even identical as long as it is in a different unconnected class. They cannot however be too detailed/descriptive and must not contain common surnames, geographical names, current registered company names or anything that implies royal patronage. Within the EU, trademarks have got to be registered in order to have protection, they can however last indefinitely if they are taken care of properly.


  • A trademark may be designated by the following symbols:
  • ™ - the trademark symbol, which is the letters "TM" in superscript for an unregistered trademark, used to promote or brand goods.
  • ℠ - the letters "SM" in superscript, for an unregistered service mark, used to promote or brand services.
  • ® - the letter "R" within a circle, for a registered trademark (which must be used in some countries.)

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