If someone copied your business branding would you be flattered or would you think it was theft?  The majority of us thought it would be theft – and we were right!

At our last event on 5th November Michelle Ward from UDL Intellectual Property talked to us about the importance of protecting our brand.

Many businesses still don’t protect their brand but with it being the identity of your business why would you not want to protect it?  Michelle ran through some of the main reasons of why it is so important to register your brand, including:

  • Trade marks are a valuable asset (especially if you are looking to sell your business)
  • Allows you to secure ownership of your brand
  • A public record deterrent assists in setting boundaries when dealing with third parties
  • Allows the use of the ® symbol on your branding
  • It is a commercial weapon against potential infringements
  • It can be used by Customs and Excise and Trading Standards to help protect your products or services
  • It is long lasting and can exist forever

We were then introduced to what can actually be trademarked, such as:

  • Words/names
  • Logos
  • Numbers /letters or a combination of both
  • Symbols
  • Slogans/straplines
  • Sounds
  • Smells

However, if you want to trademark something it is not as straight forward as it seems – there is specific criteria that has to be met, which is why it is so important to make sure you use an Intellectual Property specialist to ensure that you are fully protected.  Remember you can only use the ® symbol if you have registered your brand!  You can use ™ but this only stands for an unregistered trademark or a pending trade mark application.

Although it can be a complicated process Michelle provided us all with some great tips to help us protect our brands:

  1. Don’t assume you can use anything you want – always arrange an early risk assessment on what you want to use to see if you can or not
  2. If you want something that you want to protect from the outset pick something descriptive or generic
  3. If you are doing business overseas don’t assume that UK Intellectual Property rights will protect you
  4. Think about your brand in everything you do with third parties
  5. ® means ‘Registered Trademark’ and misuse of this symbol is a criminal offence
  6. It is always good to have a footnote under your branding, for example:

™ GBWN is a trademark of Gwent Business Women’s Network

For more information about protecting your brand and the process involved you can contact Michelle directly on mww@udl.co.uk or visit the UDL website.