It’s thought that more than half of small businesses in the UK are failing to protect their intellectual property in an adequate way. Without intellectual property such as logos and company names being registered, rival companies can easily use them to make money – and their victims may find that they have no legal comeback. Once trademarks and logos are protected, companies can take legal action against infringers, but many SMEs don’t take action until it is too late.
There are many benefits to registering intellectual property. When logos and slogans are protected, investors are more likely to get on board. Registering intellectual property doesn’t have to be an expensive activity, and it’s relatively easy to get things moving with a trademark application without having to go over-budget. A trademark attorney can assist you with the process. If you do discover that someone else is using your intellectual property and making money from it, it may be difficult to prove that you are associated with it. Without registration being in place you may face a tough battle to demonstrate that you have built up a reputation on the mark, logo or slogan.
Can You Claim?
If you are successful and it is decided that infringement has taken place you may be able to make a claim for any profits that have been made from it as well as any financial losses you may have occurred. Those who sell fake goods featuring registered trademarks can face severe penalties. The law of passing off can protect you against infringement of an unregistered trademark that you have come to be associated with.
It’s also worth remembering that if you only register a UK trademark, you will only be protected in the UK. This is fine for companies that only trade in the UK as copyright infringement in other territories is unlikely to affect you, but if you plan on expanding into Europe it may be wise to choose a CTM or Community Trade Mark, which covers the whole of the EU. One of the best things about a CTM is that you only need to register it in one country for the protection to take effect in every EU country.
Do You Have A Case?
Before you register trademark, you should ensure that no one else is likely to be infringed by your idea. You can do this by conducting a trademark search. This can be performed online, or you can look through the main trademark agencies such as the UK Intellectual Property Office. IP lawyers can help you to do this if you don’t feel confident or are confused about the matter. It is vitally important to remember that you cannot pretend that your trademark is registered when it isn’t, so don’t print the ® symbol next to your intellectual property unless you really do have legal protection. Expert IP solicitors can help you to put a convincing trademark application together if you do need professional assistance.