Coodes’ head of business services Christian Wilson explains the importance of a company guarding its intellectual property
A business’s branding is extremely valuable to a business’s identity. To brand a business, is to establish a business’s name and generate its reputation.
A business’s brand can also be described as a business’s trade mark. Both a brand and a trade mark represent an element of a business that distinguishes it from their competitors and differentiates their goods or services from those made or provided by others.
Often a business’s brand or trade mark is their logo or symbol but need not be. It could instead be a variety of aspects that set the business apart. For example, the business’s product design, its type of packaging, the shape of their goods, any slogans, or even smells or sounds.
The law recognises that these distinctive elements as trademarks should be capable of protection by the owner. If the business has worked hard to develop its reputation through its brand or trade mark, they should be able to prohibit others from imitating it and thus diluting their identity.
What are the benefits?
An owner of a registered trade mark is entitled to the exclusive right to the use of the mark and can prohibit anyone else using it or a similar mark without their permission.
Trademarks are popular because of their level of protection and their clarity regarding enforceability. If a business does not register its trade mark, it may instead have a claim through the courts for the action against “Passing Off”.
Passing Off is a much more difficult right to establish. This means that it can be more expensive and time consuming to enforce. To succeed in such a claim, the claimant must show that its brand has
generated goodwill, that there has been misrepresentation, and that the business has suffered a financial loss. These tests for enforceability are not favourable to new businesses that are yet to generate any goodwill. A lack of any goodwill will restrict any such claim at the outset.
Alternatively a trade mark is enforceable through the Intellectual Property Office via an action for infringement. The action relates to a much more distinguishable right. It enables the owner to sue anyone using an identical or similar mark in relation to the same or similar goods or services if there is a likelihood of confusion.
Coodes offers to apply for the registration of a trade mark. Our legal fees for a standard UK application starts at £350 plus VAT and plus disbursements. This fee relates to those applications that are unopposed by any existing trade mark owners. You should also note that the disbursement fee payable to the Intellectual Property Office starts at £200.
We would be more than happy to discuss the application process and our fees with you in more detail. Should you wish for further information please do not hesitate to contact either Christian Wilson or Alex Tomlinson here at Coodes.
This article appears in the February 2011 issue of Business Cornwall magazine