Trademark Search- step-by-step process
1 Why is a Trademark important for a business?
Your trademark identifies your business as unique. People use it to recognise you and what you sell and do. For most businesses it’s the name or logo of their business or what they sell. Think about the big brands, like Starbucks or Costa (sorry, it’s nearly time for coffee!).
Trademarks are an important for any business because:
- Most businesses need to protect themselves by registering their business name/logo. It gives you the sole right to use it. Imagine if someone else started the same type of business with the same name? Earning their money from your hard work and marketing budget?
- If you make a unique product or provide unique services, then you need to protect them. Have you seen the great video by the ‘Velcro’ lawyers. I’m certainly calling it ‘hook and loop’ now!
- Did you also know that as well as protecting your business name and assets, trademarks can be very valuable and are sold for high amounts of cash?
- Having a registered trademarks is usually essential if you need business investment. Any investor will need to see that you’ve protected your brand.
- You want to grow your business (for example, licensing, franchising or using affiliates).
2 What’s the difference between a Trademark and a Service Mark?
We usually use the word Trademark to cover both, but if you want to be precise
- Trademarks identify products and
- Service Marks identify services.
3 How do I register a trademark- step-by-step?
Step 1 – Check what you can register
Remember that your trademark needs to identify your business. You can register words, phrases, symbols, logos and even sounds.
You can’t register just anything as a trademark. For example, you can’t register anything that is
- Something which does not distinguish your business from others.
Step 2 – Trademark Search
Next, you need to do a trademark search. This tells you whether your trademark is already registered. It will also tell you if there is another one which is so similar to yours (you couldn’t easily tell them apart). If there is, yours is unlikely to be accepted.
Don’t miss out this step. Otherwise you’ll waste time and money on something you can’t register.
A trademark search can also give you lots of useful information about other trademarks. For example, those that were registered but have now lapsed (classed as ‘dead’).
Step 3 – Which classes?
Once you’re happy that your trademark can be registered then you need to decide your classes. Trademarks are registered according to classes and this is one of the most complicated parts of any application. There are 45 classes –
- classes 1 to 34 are for products
- classes 35 to 45 are for services
It’s important to get it right. You want to be sure that you include the right classes. You can’t add on classes once you’ve registered your trademark.
4 Is it easy to register a Trademark?
UK trademarks must be registered with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and anybody can apply.
Like everything, there is a knack to applying to register your trademark. It can be a daunting process, if you don’t know what to do. If you try and tackle the trademark application by yourself and don’t know the process you could
- end up losing costly IPO fees and/or
- be left with a useless trademark.
You don’t have to be a lawyer. There’s a reason why I ask my local mechanic to service my car. I couldn’t bear to think of the damage I would do by tinkering.
Thinking about getting a trademark? Why not look at our affordable, fixed cost service to get a trademark?