Q. I have traded my business under its current name for some time and it’s registered at Companies House – is it automatically my name or my brand?
A. It is a common misconception that because your company name is registered with Companies House, you have acquired any registerable rights to your business name. In fact, using your brand for many years does not give any automatic protections. Yet a brand can be one of the most valuable assets for a business.
The benefits of protecting your brand with a registered trade mark are considerable and can potentially add value to your balance sheet.
A trade mark is a sign distinguishing your goods and services from your competitors – a word, name, phrase, symbol, logo, image, picture, design or a combination of these. It must be distinctive for the goods and services you provide i.e. recognisable as a sign that differentiates your goods/services.
Registering your trade mark gives you the exclusive right to use your mark for the goods and/or services that it covers in the UK. Benefits include:
- proof’ of your legally protected rights
- protection against others using same/similar trade marks
- can create a separate asset reflected in the accounts
- allows for criminal charges to be brought if counterfeiters use your trade mark
- you can sell or licence your brand/trade mark for others to use and generate licence fees
If someone else has already registered a mark similar to yours for similar goods/services, you may be prevented from registering your mark, leaving your company name/brand unprotected. Without registration your only other protection is the common law remedy known as ‘passing off’. This relies on proof that ‘goodwill’ subsists in your name and that confusion has been/likely to occur and it will only protect a brand in the areas in which it is already known to consumers.
Investing in trade mark registration is well worth doing. Napthens offers a fixed fee, competitively priced, online service which importantly, includes a consultation with a specialist trade mark lawyer who will provide tailored advice for your brand and business.