Intellectual Property is intangible property resulting from creativity and innovation. Protecting Intellectual Property can be crucial to the success and growth of a business.
Find out more below on Trade Marks, Designs and Copyright, with some useful website links and our downloadable guides.
Trade marks are at the core of brand identity and protection.
In today's global and increasingly competitive marketplace, it is more important than ever to stand out from the crowd and capture the attention of consumers. Trade marks allow consumers to identify and differentiate your products or services from those of competitors and other businesses.
The more distinctive and memorable your trade mark is, the easier it will be for consumers to differentiate your products or services from those of others
(and also generally the easier it will be to register).
Trade marks can be words, logos, symbols, taglines, slogans and possibly colours, shapes, sounds, smells and motion.
Trade marks add to growth, opening the door to potential commercial opportunities and revenue streams through trade mark licensing and franchising agreements.
Crucial advertising and marketing tools, trade marks enlighten the origin, quality, trust, reliability and benefits of your goods or services.
Trade marks are valuable business assets, a badge of origin symbolising your business and what it represents.
why register your trade marks.
Registration enables you to prevent the unauthorised use of your trade mark.
Helps you to control and protect your brand identity, business reputation and the value of your trade marks.
Allows you to obtain remedies for acts of trade mark infringement e.g. recovering lost profits and costs.
Can help act as a deterrent to competitors and other traders from using the same or a similar trade mark.
Provides you with opportunities to maximise the commercial potential of your trade marks e.g. through licensing, franchising and sale agreements.
Useful for Customs Recordal applications to help prevent the import and/or export of counterfeit goods.
Once registered you can mark your products and service materials with the ® symbol, putting other parties on notice of your rights.
choosing a trade mark.
Selecting the right trade mark is an important and key process, as it is likely to have a significant impact on the growth and success of your business.
Ideally, you will want your mark to differentiate your business and its goods and/or services from those of other traders, to stand out, and be memorable to consumers.
Avoid descriptive terms for the goods/services you are offering. For example, the word NUTTY for hazelnut butter could not be registered because it describes a characteristic of the product.
Avoid common terms in use in general language and in your trade.
Avoid laudatory terms such as best, premium or quality as these types of words are not registrable or protectable.
Avoid using a mark that could create confusion as to the nature, quality or geographical origin of your goods or services
Think about long term strategy and whether your trade mark name and/or logo will be suitable if your business expands into other product or service areas
Choose a mark that is suitable for all your markets - make sure it doesn't have adverse or undesirable meaning in foreign languages or cultures.
Don’t choose a name or logo that is identical or similar to another traders name/logo (searches should ideally be made prior to use and filing of a trade mark)
Make your trade mark distinctive for your goods or services of interest. The more distinctive your mark by being inventive, unique, unusual the easier it should be to register, and differentiate yourself from your competitors
tips for selecting a trade mark.
There is an International classification system (Nice classification), used by Trade Mark Offices around the world, which groups similar goods and services together into 45 different classes.
Goods are in classes 1 to 34; Services are in classes 35 to 45
Classes have a broad heading indicating what is covered the that class. The heading is only a general indication and specific terms will also be covered under each Class.
See the following link for general class headings information:
Designs can have a significant impact on the success of a product, and like trade marks are a valuable business asset. The appearance of a product can be crucial in relation to customer purchasing decisions and customer loyalty, and the value of designs in relation to commercial growth and market opportunities should not be underestimated.
A design (in terms of Intellectual Property) is defined as the appearance of the whole or a part of a product resulting from features such as the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture and/or material of the product itself and/or its ornamentation.
There are two main types of design protection - registered and unregistered – which are explained in our downloadable guide below.
why register your designs
Exclusive right to use your design for commercial production, sales and marketing in the countries where registered (length of registration and renewal intervals can vary between countries)
Allows you to prevent others from reproducing your design and also similar designs (subject to tests relating to overall impression and the informed user)
There is no need to prove copying for registered design infringement to have occurred (proving unregistered design infringement is more arduous, as deliberate copying must be shown)
The registration process for the UK and EU is fast and relatively low cost
Provides commercial opportunities for your business - a design registration can be sold or licensed to others, attract investors and help to bring in business investment
A registration can help to act as a deterrent against the unauthorised use of your design by competitors and others
Once registered you can mark your design products and packaging with the registration number – putting other parties on notice of your rights
An automatic form of protection in the UK, which protects and promotes creativity. If you create an original literary, artistic, dramatic or musical works, recorded visibly or audibly then your works may be protected/qualify for protection under copyright law.
The purpose of copyright is to protect the expression or embodiment of a work which has been created using some form of labour, skill or judgement. It does not protect the general idea or concept underlying a work.
The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) - the official government body responsible for intellectual Property rights in the UK
The European Intellectual Property Office - responsible for managing EU trade marks and registered Community designs
The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) - global forum for IP services, policy, information and cooperation. Promotes the protection of IP throughout the world
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) - the federal agency for granting U.S. Trade Marks, Designs and Patents
The Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (CITMA) - the UK professional membership organisation for trade mark attorneys in the UK
IPReg, the regulatory body for trade mark and patent attorneys in the UK