Don Pennant, Artington Legal’s Registered Trade Mark Attorney, discusses an area of law that businesses should be more aware of and take steps to protect their brand, their trade marks and add value to their business.
All businesses, whether sole traders or vast corporations, have a brand. This is made up of their overall company name and logo, operating style, marketing genre and goodwill, creating a unique proposition and reputation. This is supported by their trade marks being product names, words, symbols, logos, shapes, numbers, etc., that are used to identify one trader’s goods and/or services from a competitor’s. The aim being to grow goodwill in the business, create brand loyalty from customers and to create a successful profit making venture.
‘Prevention is better than cure’. We’ve all heard this saying so why don’t we heed the advice given? Legal consideration needs to be given to protecting trade mark rights by all enterprises whether a start-up, an established business or even the launch of a new venture or product. Trade marks can be protected by law giving the owner the right to the exclusive use of that name in relation to the goods and/or services that are being offered. The cost of such protection is proportionally very small in comparison to the cost of trying to cure the extreme damage that can be caused by a third party infringer (whether intentional or not) or a counterfeiter.
Firstly, why would anyone not protect themselves to aid prevention of a competitor’s use of the same or confusingly similar trade marks in the same area of business interest? Secondly, in a worst case scenario, protection of trade marks can be used to prevent criminal counterfeiters from directly copying your trade marked goods and/or services. In either case the effect of an infringement can be very damaging and can seriously harm your company’s reputation and goodwill, potentially putting your business at a major risk.
Don’t go yet, keep reading… it could be worse! Let’s say you have launched Brand X and you receive a letter stating that you were infringing someone else’s registered rights? Imagine receiving a cease and desist letter ordering you to stop using your company name or an important trade mark in connection with the goods and/or services you offer. Could this ruin your business?
All because you failed to protect your trade marks!
Having a company name registered at Companies House is no defence to someone suing for trade mark infringement. Generally the person who registers their trade mark rights first is in a much more powerful position than the person who uses a trade mark first.
You have the opportunity to protect your trade marks before someone else does. Why not do so?
If you would like any help in protecting your rights, enforcing your rights or, worst of all, defending your business against a competitor with rights, do not hesitate to contact Don Pennant at Artington Legal: [email protected].
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