Out of all the intellectual property rights available to protect fashion brands, trademarks are the most widely misunderstood. We’ve answered seven of the most common questions to help you understand what a trademark is and whether it’s right for you and your brand!
A trade mark protects names, logos or other forms of ‘branding’ associated with a given product or service.
What is a trade mark?
A trade mark is a sign which can distinguish your goods and services from those of your competitors. Trademarks can include words, slogans, logos and designs. Examples of fashion trademarks include Gucci and Louis Vuitton.
Why would I get a trademark for my fashion brand?
- A trademark will makes it much easier for you to protect your brand and take legal action against anyone who uses your trade mark without your permission
- The Trading Standards Officers or the Police will be able to bring criminal charges against counterfeiters if they use your trade mark
- You will own the trademark – you can therefore sell it, franchise it or let other people have a licence that allows them to use it.
How long does it take to register a trade mark?
It normally takes less than six months to obtain a UK trade mark. An EU-wide Community Trade Mark (or ‘CTM’), can take slightly longer. There is also a system for obtaining multiple national trade marks through a single application using the ‘Madrid Protocol’, which takes approximately 18 months.
How long can trade mark registrations last?
UK and CTM registrations last for 10 years. After this they can be renewed for further 10 year periods for as long as you wish to use the trademark.
What’s the deal with ® and ™ symbols?
In the UK, there is no restriction on the ability to use the ™ symbol, even if you haven’t registered your trademark yet! However, in order to use the ® symbol, you must be the owner of the registered trademark. This differs from country to country though so be careful if you are operating in different countries!
How much does it cost to register a trade mark?
In the UK the cost of a trade mark application for one class of goods or service is £170 with an additional £50 payable per additional class. Products and services are grouped together into 45 different ‘classes’
Other costs will be dependent upon the countries in which you are interested and the range of products and services for which the trade mark registration will be protected.
I‘m not sure if my trademark will be accepted. Can I find out before I pay the £170 application fee?
You can carry out a search of existing trademarks to see if there are any similar trade marks already in use which may affect your application for registration. If you are still unsure you might benefit from using ‘The Right Start’ application service offered by the Intellectual Property Office. With a Right Start application you initially pay £100.00 (which includes one class of goods or services), and £25.00 for any additional classes included in your application.
In return for this payment of half the total fee, the Intellectual Property Office will examine your application to assess whether it meets the requirements for registration and issue an examination report. Only if you decide to proceed with your application will you need to pay the balance of fees (namely £100.00 plus £25.00 for each additional class above one).
If you have any other questions on trademarks drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best to answer your query!