2016 marks the 750th anniversary of the first trade mark legislation. Long before The Great British Bake Off, it was the humble loaf of bread which became the subject of the earliest British Trade mark legislation. Passed by King Henry III in 1266 the Baker’s Marking Law is one of the earliest known laws governing trade marks. The legislation enabled bakers to stamp or use pinpricks on loaves of bread to denote the producer and was not only designed to ensure authenticity but was also used to ensure any baker falling selling short measures could be tracked down and pilloried!
Although silversmiths and porcelain manufacturers followed, it wasn’t until nearly 600 years later that the 1875 Trade Marks Registration Act became law, with the first Trade Marks Registry established a year later.
Trade marks today provide an important way of protecting your brand and deterring others from trading by using your company name or brand. A trade mark registration provides legal ownership of the trade mark, commonly referred to as “the mark” and can be a logo, name or even a colour scheme, sound or smell.
Do I need a trade mark?
A registered trade mark makes others think twice about copying your brand. Should anyone attempt to use your registered trade mark without permission, you can legal take action to prevent them from doing so.
What is a trade mark?
A trade mark is a sign which helps to distinguish your goods and services from other competitors on the market. A registration of the trade mark allows you to prevent unauthorised use of the trade mark and is likely to deter others from using anything similar.
It is worth noting that when a trade mark is registered, it only protects the brand of a particular product or service, not the product or service itself. If you have an invention you would like to protect, then we’d recommend reading our patents section.
Once registered, a trade mark is renewable every ten years. Some of the earliest registered trade marks continue to remain in use today.
Does it have to be unique?
Yes. If you are unsure as to whether your trade mark application will be registered, always consult an intellectual property specialist. Before filing a trade mark application, research should be undertaken to check that the mark is not already registered. Your trade mark attorney can conduct searches before filing the application.
How do I register a trade mark?
A trade mark attorney will advise you of the best way of protecting your brand. You should always seek advice from such an intellectual property specialist as registering a trade mark can be a lengthy and complicated process.
Should I register a trade mark overseas?
If your business is based overseas as well as the UK, then you should register your trade mark in each country in which your business operates.
Throughout Europe, you can apply for an EU trade mark which is enforceable in all EU member states.
If you aim to branch out your business into other countries, we would recommend consulting with a trade mark attorney at the earliest stage. They will help you to make the right decisions to help protect, and grow, your business.
To find out more about Howard Lock Intellectual Property can help your business, contact 0114 218 0653