Whether you are operating your business as a sole trader, partnership, LLP or limited company you will have given it a name. You may well also have developed a logo, which together will be used to distinguish your business from your competitors.
A considerable amount of time and money can be spent creating your brand identity and developing the right name and “look” for your business. It would be frustrating to say the least for a third party to then come out of the woodwork to tell you that they already use that name. If that were to happen it could be a costly exercise to rectify the position. For example, there would be: the costs of settlement including any compensation and the legal costs incurred in reaching a settlement; the loss arising from the possibility of shredding all materials that contained the third party’s business name/logo; the costs of developing a new brand and new print materials.
To minimise the risk of incurring such costs consider taking the following action:-
Investigation : Is the name available or has someone else got there first?
At the outset it is advisable to check that there is not already a business operating under the same or a similar name to yours. A relatively quick and cheap exercise (which could save you the cost of re-branding in the future) is to carry out the following internet searches:-
- Type in your proposed business name into an internet search engine- if it reveals a “hit” then investigate to see whether they are in a same or similar market to you.
- Check Companies House registry - www.companieshouse.gov.uk
- Check trademark registry – www.ipo.gov.uk
- Check domain name availability – eg. www.nic.co.uk for domain names ending .co.uk or www.networksolutions.com for domain names ending .com
Once you have established that your business name/logo is viable, the best way to ensure it is protected is to register your business name and/or logo as a trademark.
Making the investment to register your business name and/or logo as a trademark, could save your business money and avoid the costs referred to above. In addition, if you discover that your business name and/or logo is being infringed by a third party, having your business name and/or logo registered as a trademark provides a simpler legal remedy than if you were having to rely on the law of “passing off”.
What is a trademark?
- Any sign which is capable of distinguishing goods or services of one undertaking from those of others.
- A Trade Mark can consist of letters, numbers, graphics, 3d shapes, sounds and even smells.
- The ® mark shows customers and competitors that you are serious about your business and its intellectual property.
- Can you afford to lose your business, brand or product names? This could happen if someone else registers the same/similar name to your mark for the same or similar goods that you sell.
- It offers greater protection than afforded by the common law right of passing off, by making it easier to establish if an infringement has occurred.
- It provides wider protection against domain name squatters.
Our commercial team will carry out a free search to ensure this name or trademark is free to register. We offer fixed fees for these applications and will advise and represent you should any objections be raised. Get in there first and protect your goodwill as soon as you make a name for yourself people may try and use the name for their own goals. Clients often come to us when it is too late.
For more information contact us…
0207 426 0382