Everything you need to know about logo protection
Protect your property
The law considers your logo as ‘property’. No doubt a lot of time and consideration has gone into the design of your logo to make it representative of your product and company. How mad would you be if you found that somebody had copied it, in effect stolen it? Some people think that a good logo, just like a good product, is worth stealing and even though this isn’t very moral, it does happen. We would always advise you to protect it rather than have to fight legal battles once the worst has happened.
Why register your logo as your trademark
Your logo is your trademark and is worth safeguarding against infringement. Registering your logo as your trademark will safeguard you against third party theft and the problems that brings; registering your trademark is better done sooner than later too.
Trademarks aren’t always logos, but something that can represent your company graphically i.e. words, colours and even 3D shapes. To make your trademark eligible for registration you need to be sure that it is unique to you and not just descriptive of the product your company offers. So for instance it is not possible to register CAKE as your trademark for baking products. This is because customers and other members of the public can use this term to describe the product so infringement would be impossible to monitor.
However a trademark CAKE as the brand/logo for a company selling design or PR services for instance might be acceptable. In other words your trademark or logo needs to be distinctive and unique to you to be eligible for registration.
Back to the beginning
Before you choose your logo or trademark, check that no other company has the same branding. There are three registration bodies whose registered trademarks are legal in the UK; you should check their registers first:
- The UK Trade Mark Register (www.ipo.gov.uk)
- The Community Trade Mark Register (CTM) which covers EU registrations (www.oami.europa.eu)
- The International Trade Mark Register for registered trademarks marked UK or EM (European Union) (www.wipo.int)
During your searches remember to check for misspellings, words that sound the same as yours and plurals of the word. It is also worth checking for hyphenated versions or other adapted words or trademarks which are very similar to yours. Sometimes these have reservations on them which prevent other similar trademarks from registering. Wikipedia has good advice on this.
How to register your logo
You can do this online yourself but remember that you are entering into a legal agreement, so it is worth getting some direction from a specialised attorney. If you are registering a community trademark i.e. one that is representative of your product in the European Community, legal advice is definitely advisable.
What does it cost to register your logo
Most trademark attorneys will be prepared to offer you advice in a free consultation to file the application yourself; even a small fee is worth it for guidance of how to make your application without any hiccups. To find a registered trademark attorney, check their listing on the official website of the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys, www.itma.org.uk.
You should be aware that if you want to protect your logo from infringement across Europe then not only will registration cost you more but it is likely to take twice as long – up to 12 months for activation. However your trademark will be protected in all 27 countries in the EU. European Community registration costs about two and a half times more than a UK registration for which you will pay approximately £170 (£30 discount for online applications).
Other stuff to consider
As we mentioned earlier, trademarks are registered by class so you will need to identify which of the 45 available classes your goods or services fit into; this information is available on the UK Intellectual Property website at www.ipo.gov.uk.
Another consideration is the name of the owner of your trademark. For instance a trademark owned by a limited company would be sold with the company were it to change hands.
Just do it
Don’t be put off by the process; remember to get legal advice especially if you need things explained along the way and engage an attorney to register for you if necessary. Remember your trademark is your property and you don’t want to lose it.