How to trademark a name in the UK: Our Easy Guide
Get started with trademarking your name today with our guide.
Disclaimer: This FAQ should not be construed as legal advice on any specific facts. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only. You are urged to consult your own solicitor on any specific legal questions you may have.
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by Dr. Martin Douglas Hendry
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GUIDE: How to trademark a name in the UK
So you are looking to trademark your name in the UK - congratulations!
A trademark (spelt "trade mark" in the UK) is a registered intellectual property right that protects your name - stopping other people from using a name that is the same or too similar.
But what is the process of registering a trademark in the UK?
Here is a quick idea of the process.
Step 1: Select your name
To begin you will want to select the name you wish to trademark. Done? Brilliant!
Step 2: Check if it is available
Remember, that if it is a good idea, chances are someone else may have already thought about it!
A cursory search on Google, social media, Companies House (note: company names on Companies House are not necessarily trademarked, but can provide a hint at what is out there) and the trademark register can give you an idea of whether it will be available.
Remember, you will need to be sure that it is available in all of the classes you will be using it for. Read more about classes by looking at the link to the guide below.
You will also need to check whether it is something that can be registered as a trademark in the UK. There are a number of rules which stop certain things from being registered (like immoral terms, or protected words.) Again we have some information about this linked below.
Once this is done and you're happy that it is available you can apply to register the trademark.
Step 3: Apply for your trademark
The IPO website allows anyone to register their trademark.
When you go here, you will need to be 100% sure that it will be registerable. If not you may receive a refusal on absolute grounds (if it is something that is not allowed to be used as a trademark in the UK) or relative grounds (if someone else has something that is the same or too similar in the UK).
The key to this is an expertly cleared name and a finely tailored trademark specification.
For trademarks that are very important to a business, it is recommended that you speak to a lawyer who is experienced to make sure that you have the best possible application to avoid these traps and technicalities.
Getting it wrong can risk time and money wasted, or in the case of an already existing brand, an opposition or trademark infringement claim.
Step 4: Examination
Once your trademark application has been submitted it will be examined by a trademark examiner at the UKIPO. They will see whether the trademark is able to perform the function of a trademark on "absolute grounds". Again you can read our guide about this below. Once it is cleared by the examiner, it moves on to the next phase.
Step 5: Publishing
At this point, the trademark is published in the UK trademarks journal. Here the application is made public and other businesses are able to see what you are planning to use as a brand - and if they have a similar or close brand, oppose or stop the registration from going through.
For this reason, it is really important to make sure that the name you are trying to register in the first place will not be likely to cause an issue with existing trademark holders.
Most trademark owners will have a watching service over their trademark making sure that they are alerted to any applications that come close to their mark when they're published.
Trademarks are published for 2 months, and then if there are no objections or issues...
Step 6: You have a UK trademark!
Congratulations, you have a registered UK trademark for your name. Now you have this trademark it will be much easier for you to stand out amongst other people in the marketplace and stop them if they use something that is identical or too similar.
How much does it cost to trademark a name in the UK?
Registering a trademark in the UK is not free, and at the very least, if you do it on your own you will need to pay the Intellectual Property Office filing fees (£170) with a small additional fee (£50) for each different class that you wish to register the trademark in.
Despite this, self-filing is done at your own risk, as not preparing the trademark registration with expert advice and clearance to make sure that both the name is possible to be trademarked and that it won't be opposed by an existing trademark holder.
As above, an incorrectly prepared application can result in wasted time and money - as well as the risk of opposition proceedings.
You do not receive your fees back if your trademark application is rejected. As a result, it is important to make sure that you get it right the first time around.
Most applicants instruct an intellectual property solicitor and/or trademark attorney to do this work. These specialists will charge an additional fee on top of the registration cost, typically taking the range of cost from between £700-£1200 for a single UK trademark in one class.
Here the uplift in cost means more time has been used to prepare the application to increase its chances of succeeding the first time around.
How to find out if a name is trademarked in the UK
To find out if a name is trademarked in the UK you can search the trademark register on the IPO.
Most people will be able to identify names that are identical, which will stop you from getting your trademark.
But you also have to be aware that existing trademark holders can also object to applications on similarity which can even go as far as the look, feel and sound of the name.
A fully comprehensive clearance search from a trademark attorney will take all of these nuances into account before filing the trademark application - making sure that the name has the best chance of being trademarked without any issues.
How long to trademark a name in the UK
The IPO has provided a guide which outlines the timeline for registering a trademark in the UK.
Generally speaking, it takes around 8 weeks for a trademark to be registered from the point of an application being made to the certificate being issued.
However, this process can take longer should any issues come up in examination or should an opposition come in once it is published.
It is important to know, however, that should your trademark be registered it protects the name from the day it was filed.
This means if you applied for a trademark in June and it was granted in October - any infringement that has happened between June and October is covered by that trademark.
So whilst it can take a little time for a trademark to be registered, once it is confirmed it is in force from the day that the application had been made.
How to trademark a business logo
Trademarking a business logo is essentially the same process as registering a business name as a trademark.
When seeking to apply for a logo, the applicant uploads an image of the logo as a JPEG or PNG file to the IPO for examination.
It can be trickier to secure a logo, however, as it is more difficult to search for similar logos on the register without the use of specialist software - and the degree of similarity is harder to discern if you are not an expert in the area.
In spite of the above, it is commonplace for businesses to register as their first two trademarks their business name and logo as this offers a broad level of protection over the look and feel of their business activities.
How long does a UK trademark last?
A UK trademark lasts for 10 years.
However, it can be renewed for (£200), in essence giving the trademark the opportunity to enjoy trademark protection over that name forever - it must simply be being used for goods or services in the classes it is registered in.
We hope that you found this guide educational.
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