To secure Trade Mark protection in the United Kingdom, an application process is required to be undertaken through the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office. The process 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 and this can be indicated by placing the ® symbol next to a mark. The process takes on average 5 months.
If someone then uses the Registered Trade Mark in relation to identical goods or services, 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 in renewable 10 year periods. 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.
Registering a Trade Mark in the United Kingdom does not protect it elsewhere in the European Community. To protect a mark throughout the European Community, a business can apply to the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market for a Community Trade Mark, this Office being based in Alicante, Spain.
Enforcement of a Community Trade Mark can be undertaken through a Community Trade Mark Court.
In addition, the 'Madrid Protocol' offers protection in the sense that, where an application is filed in a party's own country, that registration is treated, within those countries signed up to this Protocol, as the equivalent of a registration effected directly in those countries provided that the initial registration is filed with the World Intellectual Property Organisation for subsequent filing in the countries signed up to the Protocol where protection is required.