Once your company has been around and grown over a few years, you might find that your business intellectual property is a valuable part of your set up that will need protecting. Conversely, you might find that you have inadvertently been using a logo, slogan or strap line that belongs to another company or is in breach of a trademark copyright. This could lead to a few legal problems that could work out not only stressful, but very costly indeed. These costs could potentially even send your business under.
So, what can you do to protect both your own trademarks as well as ensuring you aren’t using someone else’s?
This is something that you typically need to call in specialist advice for. You can look for outside help with a number of key trademark issues:
● Trademark Checking
● Trademark Monitoring
● Trademark Search
These will allow you to feel safe that you are not breaching anyone else’s copyright which could leave you open to a lawsuit, or other legal proceedings. They also offer free advice, so speaking to a company like this will help you understand your position.
Registering a trademark
On the other hand, you can register your company, logo or slogan as a registered trademark. This is called your company’s intellectual property (IP) and can be seen as an asset that can be used as a valuable commodity when you look to sell your business or seek investment to grow it. Do make absolutely sure to fully trademark both your name and logo, as failure to do so can lead to unnecessary expenses. For help with matters such as this, Everline provide business loans to SMEs.
The official Government website has a number of useful guides and articles around registering a trademark. The Intellectual Property Office (a government department known as IP Office for short) also have some very use reading on the subject of the different types of trademark available,what trademarks are, and what constitutes what can or cannot be trademarked.
You are not guaranteed your trademark will be easily accepted as the IP Office will check your logo and slogan against all others first. They may feel some amendments are necessary to prevent any future issues or conflicts with existing trademarks. In this day and age that might also mean stretching the search to Europe or beyond if you trade across borders or internationally.
As your company grows, having a registered trademark protects you from a number of things, such as:
● Having a (R) next to your company name or logo can put people off from breaching your trademark. Do remember though that it is illegal to use a (R) without the necessary trademark submitted with the IPO. So make sure you do it right!
● Unauthorised use of your trademark in any way – this can allow you to start legal procedures
● Passing off – where someone else uses your trademarks to attract business, etc.
Building up your trademark or brand is one of the key elements in business and can be very valuable. Imagine the price if you tried to buy the McDonalds Golden Arches, or the Nike Swoosh. While your company maybe never reach such lofty heights (and we hope you remember us if you do), protecting your trademarks is a good way to protect your business, in the same way as an insurance policy is. It protects the time, effort and goodwill you have built into your business.