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The best time to trade now

Napthens - November 30th 2015

Trade mark protection is currently a hot topic. Particularly as the greatest power of a trade mark is the ability to stop other businesses from using certain words, phrases or images within identical or similar sectors/industries.

In a rush to get to market, it is understandable that some businesses are reluctant to spend money on registering their trade marks. Additionally, with a common misunderstanding that registering a company name at Companies House gives then the right to use that name and prevent third parties from using that name, many businesses often postpone trade mark considerations until a later date when time and money are more plentiful. However, this approach could be detrimental for some businesses, particularly if another person or business registers the mark (or one similar to it) first, resulting in needless conflict, if not costly litigation. Aside from the quantifiable loss in terms of cost and/or compensation, you could potentially be forced to withdraw your products and rebrand, losing any goodwill established with that brand or name.

So when is the right time to trade mark?

There are no hard and fast rules about when you should register your trade mark, but the earlier you apply for registration the better.

In our experience of acting for different enterprises in diverse sectors, the question that needs to be asked to determine whether or not something should be protected is:

“Could the business withstand the bruising it suffers with the loss of that brand (whether word or image) if someone came along with a registered trade mark and prevented the business from using it?”

This question typically needs asking of a business name, a logo and any "strap” or “tag” lines.

Quite simply, if a business has spent time and money building a brand, it does not make sense to run the risk of not being able to use and exploit it fully due to lack of protection – particularly for the low level of costs involved.

Whether you decide to register your trade mark now or at a later stage, it is vital that all business, no matter how small, have put in place an effective and pro-active trade mark application strategy and, at the very least, a through trade mark search should be carried out before your brand is launched to ensure that your brand/name is not infringing any existing third party rights.

Read more about our trade mark registration service.