As you may notice, we talk A LOT about trademarks, and with good reason!
They are critical to a smooth-running, hassle-free business. In a nutshell, trademarking is the legal protection of your branding, like your company name, logo, product name, slogan etc – basically everything that makes your business yours and sets you apart from your competitors.
Picture this: you’ve spent (potentially) thousands of pounds on your branding and website, you’ve gathered an online presence, you have your domain name, and you may have already registered your company name with Companies House. All seems to be going well until you find out that a similar business has set up shop with your name (or a name sufficiently similar) and has registered it as a trademark. Even though you started operating first, your competitor now has a legally protected right to sue you and force you to change your name or branding.
This could be catastrophic for your business, but you do have options, albeit not very good ones. You could fight your competitor through litigation by instructing a trademarking litigation specialist, or you could bite the bullet and rebrand. Rebranding could be the lesser of two evils as, unfortunately, it is likely to be the one with the deepest pockets that wins.
Now, if you are reading this and you have a sense of panic that you haven’t yet registered your branding, you really should put this at the top of your to-do list.
So, here’s a run-through of what makes trademarks so important:
1. You are legally protected
The top reason to register your trademark is to protect yourself against copycats, seeking to imitate what you do and what you stand for and essentially try to steal your place in the market that you’ve worked so hard to enter. Competitors in the same industry cannot set up a company with a similar name, which could cause confusion to your customers/clients and be detrimental to your business. If they do, you can ask them to stop using the name/design, by issuing a cease and desist letter or by taking legal action against them, thereby prompting a rebrand.
2. You can keep your trademark forever
When you register your trademark, it’s yours forever, but you do need to renew it every ten years – this is a 5-minute job!
3. It helps build up your reputation and brand recognition
Trademarks enable customers/clients to recognise a brand – think the Nike tick or the McDonalds golden arches. You are more likely to be recognised and remembered in the industry in which you operate, and you have the chance to set yourself apart from the rest. This could also be helpful to you as you bring out more products under your brand and make it easier for you to sell these products if you are already established.
4. You avoid the costs of rebranding in the future
Rebranding can be expensive, as every aspect of your brand would need to change, like your website, marketing material, uniform etc. It could also cost you reputationally if you appear to have copied another company, even though you haven’t!
5. You will be taken more seriously
Registering your trademark is important from a customer perspective. In doing this, you are sending messages to your customers/clients that you value your business, you take pride in what you do, and you feel confident about the goods/services you are selling to them. With this, you are building a positive reputation among the public and can become a well-known company that customers are more likely to buy from.
6. It isn’t expensive
If the reasons we’ve previously given weren’t enough, the fact that the cost of registering your trademark is so low compared to a possible rebranding should be. Fees payable to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) start at £200 per trademark. It’s really a no brainer, right?
So, what do you do next?
You can register the trademark yourself, although it is a tricky process. Self-registrations are commonly rejected.
Jamieson Law can help improve the likelihood of acceptance by completing extensive searches of existing, similar trademarks and by letting you know which classes you should be registering in.
https://calendly.com/jamiesonlaw/brandprotection – Book here for your free trademark call!