What is a trade mark?
According to our friends at Media Arts Lawyers, a trade mark is a word, phrase, colour, sound, scent, picture, shape, logo/brand identity or any combination of these used to distinguish the goods and/or services of a particular trader from those of another.
Trade marks symbolise the reputation or ‘goodwill’ of a particular brand. They signal to consumers that a particular product or service belongs to a certain brand and that it adheres to the same standards and values embodied by that brand. Business names are classic examples of brands which signify the reputation behind the name, and the quality of the product of services associated with that business.
Given the time and effort typically spent developing a brand and its reputation, the registration of your mark is highly advisable. In fact, a trade mark can be your most valuable marketing tool. The public identifies a certain quality, reputation and image with goods and services bearing a trade mark. The more successful your business, the more valuable the trade mark becomes. Additionally, registering a trade mark creates personal property which can be bought or sold, and ultimately may become an intrinsic asset to your business.
Another important reason for registering your trade mark is to prevent third parties from marketing their products under your mark, or a mark that is deceptively similar. The use of deceptively similar marks by other traders can confuse consumers and may effectively allow competitors to ‘steal’ the reputation of your brand. Furthermore, where deceptive marks are used by your competitors in association with inferior products, your reputation in the marketplace may be diminished. While there is protection against ‘passing off’ under common law, as well as trade practices and fair trading legislation, pursuing these actions can be time consuming and expensive. Registering your trade mark is the most effective way of protecting yourself from this kind of conduct and ensuring you maintain control over the use of your mark in the market. Trade mark protection can last forever. A trade mark is initially registered for a period of 10 years and continues indefinitely provided that the renewal fees are paid every 10 years and the mark is used.
Each trade mark is a discrete piece of intellectual property. As such, the property in a word trade mark will be separate to the property in a logo trade mark. This means the application to register a word mark will be a separate application to the registration of a logo or image.
If you have been using a particular mark (remember this can mean a word, phrase, colour, sound, scent, picture, shape, logo/brand identity or any combination of these) in association with your goods or services, you should seriously consider registering it as a trade mark. Contact Media Arts Lawyers who may be just the people you need to walk you through the necessary (but laborious) task of trade marking.