Tag Archives: trade marks

trade mark brand endorsement

The power of the Trade Mark-le endorsement

Getting an endorsement from a celebrity can do wonders for a brand and the value of their trade mark. That’s no surprise.

So when Meghan Markle (Prince Harry’s fiancée, for those of you who may have been living under a rock) wore a pair of Hiut jeans last week in Cardiff, the brand exposure for the Welsh denim brand was HUGE.

(She also wore a coat from Stella McCartney, a DeMellier bag, and Tabitha Simmons boots.)

A week on, her outfit choices are still being talked about. As I was driving back from a meeting today, Radio 4’s You and Yours programme had a feature on Hiut.

You might be wondering why I’m writing about this. Surely this is a PR story, right? Well, yes. Mainly it is. But, it’s important from a trade mark and wider intellectual property perspective too.

If your brand unexpectedly gets this level of press coverage, the exposure is obviously amazing. But with that exposure comes a wider audience of rival businesses who may want to also enjoy and benefit from your press coverage and heightened brand awareness. How can you protect yourself against that?

Obviously you can’t stop someone else making a pair of jeans. But what about them making an inferior product, so-called “fast fashion” copying your design? What about a rival company calling their range of jeans the same name as you? Or maybe copying the description from your website and using it on their own website. What about if they set up a website selling similar products using a domain name that includes your brand name www.jeanslikeyourbrand.com

All those examples can be prevented, deterred, and stopped with a good intellectual property protection policy in place. Registered trade marks, design rights and copyright all play their part.

Registering your trade mark before you hit the global stage is a winning plan. All the brands mentioned have registered trade mark protection for their names, in case you were wondering.

If you’re sending out sample products to influencers (they don’t need to be future Royalty), or you’re a fashion brand with contacts in celebrity stylists, you’re probably hoping for similar golden exposure. If you would like some help putting together your intellectual property protection policy and registering your trade mark, please do get in touch.

Just as an fyi – the free 30-minute introductory call slots are fully booked until mid-March so don’t delay if you want to book one.

good trade mark

What makes a good trade mark? Branding advice versus trade mark attorney advice.

There’s lots of debate about what makes a good trade mark. And the answer is that it depends what you’re trying to achieve with it. And who you ask/who is asking!

Branding/marketing advice for a good trade mark is likely to be:

From a branding perspective a good trade mark will be memorable as the main thing. You also want it to be clear to your customers who you are, as well as being clear about what you do/offer. Most of all, you probably want it to stand out from the crowd. In addition, I know some people think that it’s a great compliment to a brand if it is used frequently, or becomes synonymous with your product or service. Who doesn’t say “I’ll Google it” when they actually mean “I’ll use an internet search engine to find that out”.

Trade mark attorneys will say that a good trade mark:

Is also memorable and stands out from the crowd. Also you want to be unique in your business area. You don’t want to describe exactly what you do – so neither “Your Local Accountant” or “Get Mums Fit” would be considered a good trade mark from that point of view.

Ideally, you want your trade mark to be able to be registered. So a trade mark attorney’s advice about what makes a good trade mark will be that you need to choose one that will satisfy the requirements for registration. The Examiner at the trade mark office will decide if it can be registered as a trade mark. This means that they look at;

  • Whether it can identify one business from another.
  • That it doesn’t describe the goods/services offered.
  • That it is not customary within the trade/industry.

You also need to make sure that it doesn’t conflict with anyone else’s existing trade mark(s).

These are all things to think about when choosing a name for your business or product range. If you need any help with choosing a new name, rebranding, or protecting your existing trade mark, please get in touch.

Trade mark registration – what does it give me?

Trade mark registration seems to be on lots of people’s “to do” list. For most businesses a trade mark is a fair chunk of investment, especially in the early stages. Lots of people aren’t really clear what a trade mark registration gives them. And just as importantly, what it doesn’t. As a result, it often gets overlooked on that “to do” list.

So here’s a quick run down of some general pointers* about what kind of benefits and security you get from having a trade mark registration.

What you get with a trade mark registration:
  • First of all, you get the presumed right to use the trade mark. In the country it’s registered in. On the goods or services it’s registered for.
  • Then you also have the right to stop someone else from using the same, or similar trade mark. In the country you have it registered in. If they are using it on the same or similar goods or services to the ones you have it registered for. And there is a likelihood that customers will be confused.
  • There’s the increased ability to ask for investment because you can legitimately say that you own the brand. Think of Dragon’s Den – the first question they ask is “do you own it”.
  • You can license it to other people to use. Think of franchises, spin-off product ranges, collaborations.
  • The ability to use it to raise finance for your business, e.g. by mortgaging it.
  • Also the right to sell the trade mark as part of your business.
  • You can use the ® symbol which tells other people that your trade mark is registered and warns them about your existence. A great deterrent.
  • It can be used to object to similar domain name registrations that contain your trade mark, or something similar.
  • You have the ability to use it to stop counterfeiters.
  • Also, you can use it to register with customs authorities to help prevent the importation of counterfeit goods.
What you don’t get from a trade mark registration:
  • Global protection. Registered trade mark rights are restricted just to the countries where you have a registration. If it’s not registered in that country, you’re not protected there.
  • Every type of product or service is protected. Unless you’ve got a registration for them all. There is no “catch all” term like “merchandise”, you have to be specific.
  • Other people copying your business idea, or simply running the same type of business (there are lots of clothes shops in the world for example). So long as they are using a different name, brand etc your trade mark registration won’t be able to stop them. Even if you are the first to the market.
  • You won’t be able to stop people using descriptive words. For example, “Bargain Books” can still be used by everyone else to describe their bargain books, even if you have, say, a logo version of that registered.

If you have any questions, or would like help protecting your trade mark, either in the UK or overseas, please get in touch.

*Not all countries have the same laws, these are general pointers from a UK and EU perspective. If you have a query about a specific country please get in touch.

domain names

Domain names and your brand

Do you own your domain name? If the answer is yes, think a bit harder. Do you own all of your domain names?

Most start-ups and small businesses have a website. But 9 times out of 10* they only own one domain name. And usually it’s the .com or the .co.uk ending.

Part of owning your brand comes from protecting as much as possible. It saves you having to argue with someone else over who should rightfully own things. My advice would be to look at see how many domain names you could/should own that contain your brand name. They are relatively cheap to own, you can point them all to the same website, or leave them dormant, but owning them is the important bit.

This past year has seen a whole host of new domain name endings launched and some still to be launched. Lots of them are relevant to SMEs, many are industry-specific or location specific. For example:

.london

.ltd

.accountants

.band

.clothing

the list goes on.

Why not spend a few minutes reviewing what domain name endings there are available and consider purchasing the ones that are relevant to you.

On top of that, make sure they are all registered in the correct name. Make sure that you/your business own them and that your contact details are correct and up to date. If your web designer registered the domain name for you as part of their service, make sure it’s not in their name. Also make sure you know the passwords for your hosting accounts. Essentially make sure that you have full control over your business assets.

If you’d like any help with your brand protection strategy, or a review of your brand protection, please get in touch.

 

*Not a real statistic

Picture from Pixabay, with thanks.

The EU Referendum result and your trade marks

It’s been a few days since the EU Referendum result was known. Whichever side of the debate you fall on (and everyone has had an opinion!), no one can deny that we’re facing some major changes to the way things get done in the UK and the EU generally. Having taken a few days to consider it, purely from a “trade marks for business” perspective, here are some thoughts:

  • Nothing has changed at the moment. Your UK rights are still valid. Your EU rights are still valid. EU rights still extend to the UK.
  • There is no need to panic. The UK won’t leave the EU until 2 years after the date that they “push the button” and give notice to leave. It doesn’t look like that notice will be given any time soon.
  • Your existing EU rights are not worthless. As and when the UK leaves the EU there will, almost certainly, be the option to keep your existing EU rights in the UK. This will undoubtedly attract a fee, but will nonetheless be possible.
  • For future trade mark filing plans, think about which countries you genuinely will use your trade mark in. At the moment, an EU trade mark is a cost effective way of protecting your trade mark in all of the EU countries through one application. If you have an interest in the UK and only one or two other EU countries, it might be better to file trade mark applications only in those countries of interest. Contact me for advice on your EU filing strategy.
  • If you have an EU trade mark coming up for renewal, so long as it is still of interest to you in part of the EU (including the UK), you should renew it. Letting it lapse now will not give you continued rights in the UK once the UK has officially left the EU.
  • Make sure that the details on the register are accurate. This includes ownership, address and representative. If you have more than one representative across your portfolio, consider consolidating to one single representative if it is possible within business decisions. This will make it much easier to handle any future changes to the EU trade marks, and the “new” UK protection. Please contact me if I can help consolidate your portfolio.

If you have any questions or concerns about the consequences for your trade mark rights following the EU Referendum result, please get in touch.

Image from Pixabay with thanks.

Alexa Chung blog heading picture

Alexa Chung, brand collaborations and trade marks

Archive by Alexa Chung for Marks & Spencer was launched this week.

It might just be my Instagram feed, but it feels like everyone has been obsessing over this. Especially the Harry blouse. It got me thinking about trade marks and brand collaborations generally. They’re great, they’re mutually beneficial, and they’re not exclusive to big names and high street retailers.

Alexa Chung Harry blouse

The lovely Anna from Little Flea looking fabulous in the Harry blouse.

The key thing with making a brand collaboration work is to make sure that everyone is clear about who owns what and what the collaboration is going to look like.

Alexa Chung has a European-wide trade mark registration for ALEXA CHUNG, it covers clothing goods amongst other things. Marks & Spencer own various trade mark registrations for Marks & Spencer and M&S also covering clothing amongst other things. Both sides own their own “names”. Put them together and agree who owns what and you have a brand collaboration in the making.

Commercially I imagine there were some meetings, probably several. They all probably chatted about their vision, how many pieces there would be in the collection, the retail price point, how they wanted the PR to be handled, who was going to be invited to the launch party, etc etc. Somewhere in amongst those meetings, there will have been an agreement covering the use of the trade marks.

Alexa Chung will have licensed M&S to use her registered trade mark on this range, it will have included requirements about how it is used, the quality of the products (after all, if you buy a dodgy blouse it’s her name and reputation that’s linked to it as much as M&S) and how the agreement will come to an end. It will also cover things like whether this agreement is exclusive or not – are M&S the only people that will have an Alexa Chung clothing line this year?

If you’ve got a brand and you want to increase your profile, and maybe launch a collaboration with another company, you’ll also want to think about some of these things. One of the starting points will be whether you have rights in the brand that you’re licensing out.

Feel free to get in touch if you want to have a chat about how Stanmore IP can help you with that.

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