Protecting your brand

A well-managed intellectual property portfolio can significantly increase brand value and, ultimately, the value of your business.

Registered trade marks are a common way for a business to protect its brand. Here are some tips on how to proactively protect your trade marks and maximise their value.

1. Monitoring

It is a common misconception that once you have a trade mark registered, you are fully protected against infringement. However, in many countries, an Intellectual Property Office will not refuse an application to register a trade mark on the basis that it is the same or confusingly similar to an already registered trade mark. The onus is on the trade mark owner to monitor trade mark registers for new applications and challenge those which could devalue or infringe its own rights.

There are many companies out there who offer a trade mark “watch service” if you do not have the time or resources to carrying out monitoring yourself.

2. Enforce your rights

It is important to act quickly if you become aware of any infringement or potential infringement of your trade marks. This includes:

• filing oppositions to pending trade mark applications for any marks that are the same or confusingly similar to your own registered trade marks;
• sending cease and desist letters to third parties who are using (without authorisation) or infringing your trade marks; and
• where necessary, threatening and/or entering into legal proceedings to protect your position.

3. Records of use

In order to register, and then maintain, a registered trade mark there is a requirement that you actually use, or have a genuine intention to use, your trade mark within the market of the relevant goods or services your trade mark is registered against. It is possible that your trade mark protection can be removed if it is not being used.

Therefore, in case a challenge arises, it is a good idea to keep a record of your use of your trade marks. This might include photographs of products, brochures, leaflets, labels, invoices and screenshots from websites and social media.

4. Remember key dates!

A registered trade mark must be renewed every 10 years and if you miss your renewal date, you risk losing your trade mark protection.

An application can be made up to 6 months prior to the renewal date, so make sure you diarise this date.

Our Commercial Team are experienced in assisting clients with applying to register trade marks and advising on infringement issues, so please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any queries.

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