A Trade Mark is a sign that can distinguish goods and services from those of competitors. It can consist of words, logos or a combination of both and are often used as a marketing tool to recognise products or services.
The vast majority of goods and services are covered by 'ordinary' trademarks. These marks function to indicate the trade origin - they link the owner of the mark to the goods or services, and the goods or services to the owner. However, there are certain marks that do not have the same function as an ordinary trade mark.
A certification mark is a specific type of mark. They provide a guarantee that the goods or services bearing the mark meet a certain defined standard or possess a particular characteristic. The owner of the mark will define those standards or characteristic. Such marks are usually registered in the name of trade associations, government departments, technical institutes or similar bodies.
A collective mark is a specific type of trademark which indicates that the goods or services bearing the mark originate from members of a trade association, rather than just one trader.
What do they do
They provide the exclusive right to use a mark for goods and/or services in a particular product category / industry. It allows the registered Trade Mark symbol to be used to warn others against using it.
Benefits of a Trade Mark
It helps protect the business identity.
It protects against others using the same or similar Trade Marks.
It protects against others using the same or similar Trade Marks on counterfeit goods and services.
It provides “concrete proof” of the legally protected rights.
It makes it much easier to take legal action against anyone who uses the Trade Mark without permission.
It removes the need to rely on “common law” rights (passing off).
It is an asset and therefore has a value – which means it may be licensed, franchised or sold.
For a Trade Mark to be accepted it must be
Distinctive for the goods and services you provide. In other words be recognised as signs that differentiates your goods or service as different from someone else's.
Trade Marks are not accepted, if they
Describe goods or services or any characteristics of them.
Have become customary in your line of trade.
Are not distinctive.
Are three dimensional shapes.
Are specially protected emblems.
Are against the law, for example, promoting illegal drugs or are deceptive.
Lead the public to think that your goods and services have a quality which they do not.
Duration of a Trade Mark
Trademarks can be active indefinatley. However once a Trade Mark has been registered it must be renewed every 10 years to remain in force.
To file a UK Trade Mark will usually cost around £600.00 (using a Trade Mark Attorney) for one class and £100.00 for each additional class.
To file a Community Trade Mark (CTM) - European Trade Mark - will usually cost around £1300.00 - £1500.00 for one class and £120.00 for each additional class.