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What happens when a trade mark is not used

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Brand protection

Once registered a trade mark must be used in the course of trade

Otherwise a trade mark owner runs the risk of losing their trade mark via invalidation and other proceedings.

Image of a derelict corridor, it has not been visited for some time

Photo by Jamison Riley on Unsplash

Words by Dr Martin Douglas Hendry




A trade mark is a symbol, design, logo, or any other characteristic that helps to identify and distinguish a product or service from others in the market. Trade marks are crucial in helping businesses establish their brand and build a loyal customer base. However, what happens when a trade mark is not used? In this blog, we will discuss the legal requirements for trade mark use and the consequences of not using a trade mark in the UK.


Legal Requirements for Trade Mark Use


Under UK law, trade mark registration and use are required to maintain the trade mark rights. A trade mark must be used within five years of registration, or risk being cancelled. The use of a trade mark must be genuine, meaning it must be used in connection with the goods or services for which it is registered, as outlined in the trade mark specification. Simply registering a trade mark without using it does not establish rights.


Consequences of Not Using a Trade Mark


The consequences of not using a trade mark can be significant. If a trade mark is not used for an extended period of time, the trade mark rights may be lost. This means that another party could register and use the trade mark without infringing on the original owner's rights. Additionally, the risk of trade mark infringement increases, as other parties may be using the same or similar marks without your knowledge. Furthermore, a trade mark that is not used may be subject to cancellation, which means that the trade mark registration will be removed from the trade mark register. This could impact the brand reputation and may make it difficult to re-establish the trade mark in the future.


Reviving a Trade Mark


If a trade mark has not been used for an extended period of time, it is possible to revive the trade mark. One way to revive a dormant trade mark is to start using it again in connection with the goods or services for which it is registered. Another option is to transfer the trade mark to another party that is using or intends to use the trade mark.

Best practices for maintaining trade mark rights include regularly using the trade mark and keeping records of trade mark use. Keeping trade mark use consistent and up-to-date can help prevent trade mark infringement and protect trade mark rights.




In conclusion, trade marks play a crucial role in establishing a brand and building customer loyalty. Failing to use a trade mark can result in the loss of trade mark rights and the risk of trade mark infringement. Reviving a trade mark requires genuine use and steps to re-establish the trade mark rights. It is important to maintain trade mark use and protect trade mark rights to ensure the success and longevity of a brand.​


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Look at our other guides that relate to this topic here.

Trademark rejected? Here's what to do next

Maximizing your protection: best practices for trademark disputes

The importance of trademark registration in your business



Virtuoso Legal is a team of intellectual property specialists based in Leeds and London - operating worldwide. Virtuoso Legal's team of IP experts have successfully tried cases in the IPEC, High Court, Court of Appeals and United Kingdom Supreme Court. In addition, the team assist companies in creating, commercialising and protecting the big ideas that make their business unique. The firm and its professionals are ranked yearly in legal directories such as the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners, cementing their status as a Top 2% law firm in the world.

DISCLAIMER: The content within this post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Virtuoso Legal does not take any responsibility for those that use this information and waives any liability for any resulting effect on your personal or commercial circumstances.

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