You can register your trade mark to protect your brand, for example the name of your product or service.
When you register your trade mark, you’ll be able to:
- take legal action against anyone who uses your brand without your permission, including counterfeiters
- put the ® symbol next to your brand - to show that it’s yours and warn others against using it
- sell and license your brand
Before registering a trade mark, check it is the right type of protection for your intellectual property.
A trade mark lasts 10 years. You must renew your trade mark every 10 years for it to stay in force.
What you can register
Your trade mark can include:
- a combination of any of these
What you cannot register
Your trade mark cannot:
- be offensive, for example contain swear words or pornographic images
- describe the goods or services it will relate to, for example the word ‘cotton’ cannot be a trade mark for a cotton textile company
- be misleading, for example use the word ‘organic’ for goods that are not organic
- be too common and non-distinctive, for example a statement like ‘we lead the way’
- be just a generic shape associated with your business, for example if you sell apples you cannot trade mark the shape of an apple
- make use of national flags you do not have permission to use
- make use of official emblems or hallmarks, for example coats of arms
You may not be able to register your trade mark if it’s the same as, or similar to, a trade mark of another business that sells the same goods or services.
What it costs
Registering a trade mark costs at least £170. It will usually cost more depending on your circumstances, for example how many types of goods or services you want to protect your brand in.
The application process
You must send details of your trade mark and the goods or services you want to use your trade mark on to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).
The IPO will:
- check that your trade mark is not the same as, or similar to, any existing trade marks
- publish details of your application in the journal, in case anybody wants to oppose it
If there are any issues the IPO will let you know. You will have to resolve them before you can register your trade mark.
If there are no issues, it usually takes around 3 to 4 months from application for your trade mark to be granted.
Register your trade mark overseas
Registering a trade mark in the UK only protects your brand in the UK and the Isle of Man.
There are different processes for: