Use Trade Marks In Your Business


Trade marks are any signs that distinguish your products and services from those of your competitors.

A trade mark can be one of the most powerful marketing tools you have, helping customers recognise your business for the quality of its products or services.

This guide explains how trade marks can benefit your business. It outlines the legal intellectual property rights you have automatically and the added protection you can gain by registering a trade mark. It also sets out what to do if someone else is using your trade mark without permission and how to avoid infringing other people’s trade marks.

What is a trade mark?

A trade mark can be seen as a badge of origin for a business or product. It provides a distinctive way of representing your goods or services that sets them apart from those of other traders. Trade marks are a valuable piece of intellectual property (IP) and can play an important role in your marketing and branding activities.

A trade mark can be:

  • a word, phrase or slogan
  • a logo or symbol
  • a sign or form of packaging
  • a sound or jingle
  • a colour
  • a gesture
  • a brand name
  • your company name

A trade mark must be distinctive for the goods and services you use it for. And it mustn’t mislead people about the nature of your products or services.

Common law may give some trade mark protection automatically, provided sufficient trading reputation and goodwill have been built up in a mark. But this is likely to be difficult and costly to defend against infringement.

Why register your trademark?

You should consider registering your trade mark for added IP protection. If you want to register a trade mark in the UK it must be possible to represent it in words and pictures.

Registering a trade mark costs money and you need to get it right. But registration establishes in law that your mark:

  • is a trade mark
  • belongs to you alone
  • allows use of the ® symbol

It makes it much easier for you to take legal action against anyone who uses your trade mark without your permission. In fact, just registering a trade mark can serve as a deterrent to people who might otherwise infringe it. See the page in nibusinessinfo’s guide on how to defend your trade mark.

Read about trade mark forms and fees on the Intellectual Property Office website.

Registering your trade mark can also help you profit by allowing you to sell or license it like any other piece of property.

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