After Trade Marking “sick beat” earlier this year, Taylor Swift has now made a bid to Trade Mark “Swiftmas” and the stylised form of “1989” on her album cover in the United States. The singer has previously been successful in protecting her name, signature and initials in the same way. The protection granted by Trade Marks prevents others from using the protected marks otherwise the owner’s rights would be infringed.
Words, letters and numbers are just three of many marks which can be protected by Trade Marks. Other marks include any of the following: slogans; gestures; designs; smells; sounds; and internet domain names.
The Requirements for a Trade Mark
A Trade Mark must be individual and can include any of the suggested marks above. It cannot be offensive, descriptive of the goods or services, misleading, too common or too similar to other symbols, such as Hallmarks and flags.
Registering a Trade Mark in the United Kingdom
To secure Trade Mark protection in the United Kingdom, an application process is required to be undertaken through the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office.A mark must not have already been registered in respect of the goods or services to which it relates, and it must not be descriptive of the goods or services to which it relates.
The process of protecting a Trade Mark is commenced by filing an application form. The application is then examined and, if it is accepted, it will then be published. Third parties are then afforded an opportunity to oppose the registration. If the registration process is successful a United Kingdom Registered Trade Mark will be obtained; this can be indicated by placing the Trade Mark symbol ® next to a mark. The length of the process is dependent on the nature of the mark, but on average it takes 4 months.
If someone then uses the Registered Trade Mark in relation to identical or similar goods or services, or takes unfair advantage of it, an infringement action can be pursued. Any such infringement is automatically illegal provided the registration is valid, and hence strict liability is imposed upon an infringer. This protection lasts indefinitely for 10 years running from the date of filing the application of registration. The protection can then be renewed for further periods of 10 years, subject to renewal fees being paid.
However, such a registration would only allow acts of infringement undertaken within the United Kingdom to be pursued. Saying this however, a registration in the United Kingdom allows the symbol to be placed next to the mark wherever it is used in the world and, since most laypersons assume this means the same is protected worldwide, a registration in the United Kingdom can prove to be a strong worldwide deterrent to infringers.
United Kingdom Trade Marks are registered against 1 or more of 45 set classes of goods or services.
Our expertise with Trade Marks
Here at Franklins Solicitors, we understand the importance of Trade Marks and their capability in distinguishing the goods or services of one business from those of another. Our experienced Business Solicitors can assist in protecting the Trade Marks for both individuals and businesses. We can also ensure that any client who has had their Trade Mark infringed is fully informed of their position and any options in respect of moving the matter forward; and even considering litigation.
It is not just important to ensure that our clients’ rights are protected, but also to provide advice on how to ensure that the Trade Marks of another are not infringed. Our broad knowledge and expertise allows us to provide well rounded and tailored advice, suitable to each of our clients’ individual needs.
If you would like a conversation about Trade Marking your brand or product or service, then please do get in contact with anyone on my team, or directly with myself on 01908 660966 or by email.