Whose Brand is it?

Posted on by bisonrivers

Many businesses remain oblivious to the pitfalls of choosing a name, developing a logo and launching their products without first checking to see if the Trademark rights in them belong to someone else.

Undoubtedly the name you choose for your products or services is one of the biggest challenges a business owner faces. So much hinges on finding a name and get-up that conveys the right image which is suitable for you, your industry and products. Ultimately, the aim must be for your branding to be synonymous with the nature and quality of products you provide. But, what would happen if you discovered that the brand actually belonged to another business and they then took legal action to prevent you trading? What would the effect be on your business if you had to rebrand, change all your literature, website, domain names, company name, stationery and pay damages and costs to the owner of the earlier trademark rights?

Many people are under the misapprehension that if they have registered their business name at Companies House, they have secured rights in the name. In reality Companies House accepts company names as long as they are slightly different to any pre-existing names on the register without consideration of trademark rights, differing perhaps by the addition of the word “International” or “UK”. From a trademark perspective this is not always sufficient. Similarly, if you have registered a domain name it doesn’t mean that it isn’t in conflict with an existing trademark right.

Carrying out research to find out whether a trademark is free for use and registration is a must for all new businesses and new products. Securing registration grants a monopoly in a trademark, which can then be used often cost effectively to prevent damage to the brand by unauthorised third parties.

We have compiled a very short questionnaire so that you can consider whether you have taken adequate steps to protect your brand.

  • Have you conducted searches of the Trademarks Registers to see whether anyone else owns the trademark?
  • Have you checked out Domain and Company Name Registers to see who owns a similar name?
  • Have you conducted research on the Internet for competing use of your trademark, or of one similar to it?
  • Have you filed applications to protect your trademark and if not, why not?
  • Would you know whether anyone else adopted a competing trademark, which could damage your brand?

If you have answered “No” to any of the questions then you should consider taking expert advice to protect your position and ensure you aren’t infringing someone else’s rights.

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