Registering a trademark is key to protecting your brand identity and acquiring the critical ability to take legal action against anyone who tries to use your trade mark without your permission, as well as sell or license out your brand. Though theoretically everyone in business is aware of how important trademarking is, you may not know how to register a trademark in the UK. This article gives you a basic outline of UK trademark law, how to apply for a trademark, and how our specialist lawyers can assist you throughout the process.
What is a Trademark?
Before we look at the intricacies of the trademark registration process, it’s important to understand exactly what a trademark is. A trademark is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner legal ownership over a designated brand name, logo, slogan or service. It gives the owner the ability to take legal action against anybody who attempts to use or exploit their brand without permission, as well as the right to license or sell their brand should they want to.
A trademark can include more than just a logo or a brand name. You can protect sounds, colours, words, logos or a combination of any of the above.
Trademarks fall under different ‘classes’ (categories) and refer to specific types of goods or services which are referred to as ‘terms’. So when you’re looking to register a trademark, you need to check which class(es) and term(s) are relevant to you. When you register a trademark within a class and term, you only gain protection within those fields.
What is a trademark class?
A trademark class relates to a broad genre of goods and services. An example of a class could be all clothing, for example.
What is a trademark term?
By contrast, a trademark term is far more specific. You can see it as a sub-category of the broader class. Therefore a term could specify clothing down to the certain type of material used or the use of the type of clothing. For example, sportswear or knitwear.
What rules are there about trademarking?
To be able to register a trademark in the UK, you need to ensure that you comply with certain regulations. For example, your trademark cannot contain anything offensive or expletive. It also cannot explicitly refer to the goods or services that it relates to. The trademark also cannot be misleading, too common, use national flags, or include official emblems or hallmarks.
How much does registering a trademark cost in the UK?
Registering a trademark in the UK costs a minimum of £170. This is the cost of registering one trademark in one class. If you want to register a trademark in more than one class you will need to pay £50 for each additional class.
You can also choose to file your application through the Right Start Scheme in which you pay £100 up front and then pay the rest once you’ve received a report about whether your application meets the eligibility criteria.
What is the difference between a trademark and copyright?
Trademark and copyrights are both types of intellectual property that gives legal protection over certain types of property. The biggest difference is that a trademark must be explicitly applied for whereas copyright is automatically designated as long as the product or work in question meets the criteria.
Documents Required To Register A Trademark
In order to register a trademark you will need to gather as much detail as possible about what you want to register. This could be, for example, as simple as your brand name or slogan, or an illustration of your logo.
You will also need to outline the proposed owner of the trademark and which class and term your desired trademark falls under.
How to register a trademark in the UK
Registering a trademark in the UK is fairly straightforward. You will need to select a minimum of one class and one term, and can choose more if they directly relate to your business’ plans for the future.
In addition, if you want to trademark different variations on the same trade mark then you can also make a series application which will cover a maximum of 6 variations.
Remember that registering a trademark in the UK means that your brand is only protected within the UK and the Isle of Man, not internationally. There are separate jurisdiction-specific processes that you must follow to register a trademark overseas.
3 Steps to Register a Trademark in the UK
Step 1: In order to register a trademark in the UK, you need to first check that nobody else has a similar or same trademark in the UK. You can do this by searching the trade marks database yourself or by enlisting the help of a specialist service such as our Trademark lawyers.
Then you need to send (either by post or online) all relevant details of your desired trademark as well as the goods or services that you want to use your trademark to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).
Step 2: On receipt, the IPO will then start to check whether any existing trademarks conflict with or are similar to the trademark you are trying to register.
They will also publish details of the trademark you’re applying for in the journal, so that should anyone oppose to it, they have the opportunity to do so.
Step 3: This process will take an average of 3 to 4 months if there are no issues. After which the IPO will grant you your trademark.
When you register a trademark in the UK it lasts for 10 years. This means you have to renew it every 10 years to ensure it continues to provide you protection.
If you want support or guidance in registering your trademark, use 360 Trademark’s registration service. Find out more here.
FAQs about Trademarks
How do I check if a trademark already exists?
You can check the IPO’s trade marks journal, use our trademark search tool, or use the government’s online service.
What can I trademark?
You can trademark things such as words, logos, colours, sounds or a combination of these.
How long will my UK trademark last?
Once you register a trademark it will last for 10 years before you need to renew it.
Do I need to trademark my business?
There is no legal duty or requirement to trademark anything. However, it’s definitely something to consider because your business and brand identity is an extremely precious asset. Not trademarking it could open you up to legal conflict later down the line.