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Trade Marks

Trade Marks

The laws that make up trade mark legislation in the United Kingdom (UK) are extensive and are covered by the Trade Marks Act 1994. The Act was introduced to give effect to the EU Trade Marks Directive of 21 December 1988.

What is a trade mark?

The essential function of the trade mark is to guarantee the origin of goods and services.  

A trade mark is defined in the Trade Marks Directive as ‘any sign capable of being represented graphically, particularly words, including personal names, designs, letters, numerals, the shape of goods or of their packaging, provided that such signs are capable of distinguishing the goods and services of one undertaking from those of other undertaking’. These are often referred to as either ‘word marks’, usually a single word or a grouping of words (e.g. ‘thank you’) or ‘figurative marks’, such as a logo.

There are also two principal kinds of registered trade mark under UK law: UK trade marks and Community Trade Marks (CTMs). UK marks only cover the UK, while CTMs cover the whole of the EU.

Services

Chris Wiper has considerable experience in this area and can advise on:

  • The registration of a trade mark
  • The protection of a trade mark

The registration of a trade mark

It is important to instruct a trade mark attorney or solicitor to prepare and file your trade mark application. This is particularly the case if the brand which will be protected by the mark represents a substantial investment. Further details of the application procedure are available from the UK Intellectual Property Office (www.ipo.gov.uk) and, for CTMs, the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (www.oami.eu).

The protection of a trade mark

One of the most important features of trade mark protection is that it relates to specific goods and/or services. Consequently, a single sign may be registered by different companies in respect of different goods and services.

If you believe that your trademark is being infringed, you should seek professional legal advice. Care should be taken because if you threaten someone with proceedings for infringing a registered trade mark, you risk being on the wrong end of a legal action for ‘groundless threats’ under the Trade Marks Act 1994.

To discuss any aspect of trade mark law, please contact Chris Wiper on 01325 466461 or email him chris.wiper@close-thornton.co.uk

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