This is the sort of question that most startups will ask themselves either when they first decide on their company name or when they are settling on their branding. Here's why you should look to file a trademark ASAP.
Your brand can be your most important asset, sometimes contributing a large portion of your company value. A brand takes time and investment to nurture and grow, so protecting your brand should be a top priority.
There are many aspects of your brand that can be protected through a trademark, including the logo, product or service name, slogan, business name and even colours and sounds!
Having a registered trademark is not just one of the many administrative tasks that small businesses should undertake, nor is it exclusively for larger and more prominent businesses. If you have a business or a brand that you and your customers are willing to invest in, you should make sure that you are legally protected from infringement.
Why Register a Trademark?
There are many benefits for registering for a trademark, including:
Protection - A registered trademark benefits from significantly stronger protection than unregistered marks, allowing you to protect your brand more easily.
Registered Status - You will have the right to use the trademark symbol '®' next to your trademark.
Prevent Counterfeit Goods - You can register your trademark through HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs), to help prevent the import of counterfeit goods bearing your trademark.
Reputation - The ability to build your brands’ reputation as a badge or symbol of origin, quality and authenticity.
A barrier to Market - Your registered trademark will act as a barrier to market entry, allowing you to retain customers, attract new business and prohibit use from competitors.
Registering Your Trademark
Registering a trademark is often an after-thought, being left until the business is more established or, in the worst-case scenario, after another business is infringing on your intellectual property! A trademark is not only for large enterprise organisations, a recent study by the EUIPO (European Intellectual Property Office) and EPO (European Patent Office) found that only 9% of small businesses own any IP rights, compared with 60% of large businesses. The cost for filing a trademark is very affordable, the official fees in the UK are just £170 for the first class and £50 per subsequent class, our fees for applications are also very reasonable.
Too often is the case where a start-up or small business has postponed registering a trademark, only to find out that once a reputation has been built, a competitor has started using their name or logo or has even registered it!
Once you have a name or a logo you want to protect through a trademark, the time from filing to registration is usually about 6-8 months in the UK and Europe (EUIPO), if there are no oppositions.
Time is often of the essence for filing a trademark, companies are registered daily and you may have a unique name or logo now, but that may change in a year or a month! Performing a clearance search should always be your first step to ensure that your name/logo meets the absolute and relative grounds for filing. You can contact us for a free initial opinion on the registrability of your mark.
After a full clearance search, an application should be filed without delay after the search to ensure that the search remains valid and you get your trademark as soon as possible.