Thursday, 6 June 2013
Newbury trademark specialist warns about the importance of protecting your brand
With M&S hitting the headlines recently for all the wrong reasons over a trademark dispute with Interflora, a Newbury expert is warning that businesses should take action immediately to safeguard their livelihoods and avoid costly legal battles.
Dale Campbell, a Newbury-based trademark attorney, advises businesses to check that they own their own brand name as it could cost thousands of pounds in legal challenges to rectify.
A trademark clearance search, undertaken by an expert, will verify that the proposed name is not already registered to someone else and confirm that it complies with trademark laws. Appointing an expert will save you from paying fees to file an application only for it to be rejected or challenged.
She says: “With many companies offering similar goods and services it is your brand that is your competitive advantage. Many businesses assume that registering a company or domain name gives them protection for that name. Though logical, this isn’t always the case.
“Your brand is only protected and defended if it is registered as a trademark. The registration procedure results in a registration certificate which has legal status, allowing the owner of the registered trademark the exclusive right to use that mark.”
She cites the recent example of a company that came to her for help when they were approached by a well-known brand and accused of trademark infringement.
Unfortunately, there was nothing she could suggest but to comply with their demands as the other company was first to register the trademark.
“A search through the internet and through Companies House registrations, domain names and social media names too would have saved my client tens of thousands of pounds. It would also have saved his business, not to mention a great deal of stress.
“Trademarks are probably the cheapest intellectual property asset to protect. If you are ever challenged, the party who has had the foresight to register their trademark will retain the upper hand. We can take care of all of the hard work for you from just £440 for a registration lasting 10 years, meaning that you can make one of the best investments in your brand for a mere 12p a day,” adds Dale.
The way to choose a brand that will not conflict with a registered trademark is to search the Trade Mark Register in the UK www.ipo.gov.uk. Also search the internet at large and the company name register, such as Companies House www.companieshouse.gov.uk/. Make sure the name you pick is not the same as one already registered if they are operating in the same business sector as you. You can use the same name as long as you are not competitors such as Polo (car, sweet and clothing). If in doubt ask a legal specialist such as Dale for advice.
Dale says: “Small business owners think this is a problem which will never arise. That is potentially a costly mistake. Also, potential investors love Intellectual Property Rights and owning a trademark registration means you own a valuable asset. It could be the best £440 you spend on your business.”
Dale Campbell is a Trademark Attorney and the founder of TrademarkTribe (www.trademarktribe.com) a trademark advice and registration company that helps small businesses protect their brand. Contact Dale @TradeMarkTribe or via http://www.facebook.com/trademarktribe
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