You’ve decided what your business will be. You’ve got the perfect name for it… but before you develop your branding are you sure that you have the right to use it? Has somebody thought of it before you?
The importance of checking whether your chosen company name or branding can be used before you spend time and money developing it cannot be over emphasised. Domain name and/or company name searches alone are useful but quite often trade mark searches are overlooked.
Simply registering a name at Companies House or obtaining a domain name does not automatically give you rights to use that name. Another party may have registered trade mark rights enabling them to take action against competitors who might, inadvertently or otherwise, infringe registered trade mark rights. A trade mark registration can be infringed by the use of the same or similar trade mark on goods or services which are identical or similar to the goods or services covered by the registration. Thus, infringement can occur if a registered trade mark is being used by a third party as part of a trade name or brand in relation to similar or identical goods or services.
Trade mark searches prior to the filing of a trade mark application are not mandatory, but they are useful in determining whether an identical mark or a potentially conflicting mark is already registered. We can search through databases compiled from the official records of the UK Registry, OHIM (The European Community Registry) and WIPO – for international marks.
If you are OK to use it – Register it!
Unless a company name has become well known through use, only registration of the mark will confer rights which can be enforced. The filing of an application also gives protection (subject to registration) against the registration of later applications filed by third parties in respect of conflicting marks.
For advice on all aspects of trade mark searching, registration, protection or infringement please contact us.