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Five Common Trade Mark Myths

MYTH: I already have trade mark protection as I have registered my company name at Companies House and/or I have purchased a domain name for my business.
FALSE: Neither registering your name at Companies House nor purchasing a domain name provides trade mark protection. These are different systems with different laws. The only way to obtain trade mark protection is to register at the Intellectual Property Office.

MYTH: If I register my trade mark it gives me exclusive protection and no one else can use a trade mark with the same name or similar name.
FALSE: A trade mark is protected in relation to the goods and services it is registered in. Another trader may use a similar or identical trade mark provided the use of that trade mark is not for similar or identical goods or services and there is no confusion in the market place.

MYTH: Placing the letters TM after my trade mark provides protection and means my mark is registered.
FALSE: This provides no protection and legally has no meaning. Once your trade mark is registered you can use the mark ® next to your trade mark to let other traders know that your trade mark is protected.

MYTH: Once my trade mark is registered I have protection throughout the world.
FALSE: Trade mark protection is geographical, meaning that if you have a trade mark registered in the UK your protection is limited to the UK. If you intend to trade in the EU we would recommend obtaining an EU trade mark which will provide protection in all 28 EU countries, although once Brexit occurs it is likely that the UK will no longer be covered by a EUTM.

MYTH: I must already be using my trade mark before I can register it.
FALSE: You have 5 years in which to put your trade mark into genuine use from the date of registration. When you apply to register your trade mark you will be asked to sign a declaration stating that you intend to use your trade mark. You have 5 years to give effect to that intention. Failure to not genuinely use your trade mark can cause your mark to be removed from the register freeing up names for other traders to use.

Raewyn Tuffery

Solicitor (New Zealand Qualified)
Bright (South West) LLP