When should I get a trade mark?

business support business templates legal contract legal protection legal template trade mark May 23, 2022

This blog post was first published on 8 April 2020

One question I get asked regularly by business owners at all stages of business is, “When should I get a trade mark?”.

There is no strict legal rule in terms of the date or duration of trading which means that you must get a trade mark. However there are rules around getting it too early (you have to be able to show that you either trade or plan to trade using the desired trade mark) and you can leave it too late and someone else might get there first.

In 2022 the comedian formerly known as Joe Lycett changed his name to Hugo Boss. This was in response to Hugo Boss (the well-known clothing company) sending cease and desist letters to small businesses and charities who are also using the word “boss” in their names. How are they able to take such a step? They own the trade mark and therefore the right to trade using the name or names which are similar and could cause customer confusion. Lycett changed his name by deed poll to raise publicity around the issue.

How does this impact you and your business? Well a Welsh brewery, Boss Brewing, was forced into spending £10,000 to defend themselves and to keep trading under their name.

So when I get asked what stage in business you need a trade mark my answer is always the same, “How would you feel if you woke up tomorrow with a cease and desist letter against your brand name?”. It could be the name of your company, or your course, I’ve had clients receive warnings over hashtags which are trademarked.

It’s a simple process:

1. Form - ensure that you register the words as well as any identifiable logo, the logo itself does not provide protection for the words.

2. Class - there are 45 classes to choose from select the ones which are relevant to the way you do business and define them clearly in the class specification. [Tip: you don’t need to register all of the classes, Hugo Boss (the brand) didn’t have breweries covered but they had enough to stop others trading under their brand name.]

3. Timing - imagine the situation where someone else registered the name of your business overnight and you could no longer trade using it. If that would cause you a huge problem then it’s time to consider a trade mark.

My Ultimate Legal Checklist enables you to get a clear plan of the legal factors and document you need to protect your business.

Download The Ultimate Legal Checklist for free now.

Lucy x

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