What is a trade mark?

21-10-2011 16:23

Everyone will encounter many trade marks in everyday life, even if you are not directly aware of them.  There will be trade marks in business and ones you may be familiar with through your own business.  Indeed, there will certainly be trade marks in your personal life too for example in the supermarkets, cars and in your home.

Trade marks are defined as: Any sign capable of being represented graphically which is capable of distinguishing goods or services of undertaking from those of other undertakings.

This is a fairly broad definition and you can see that “any sign” can be a trade mark.  When thinking about trade marks and branding for your organisation or business it is important that a trade mark does its job – which is operating as a “badge” indicating that the product or service provided under the mark comes from your business and not someone else’s. 

Words and logos are the common types of trade marks.  What is also interesting to know is that 3D shapes, smells and sounds can also be registered as trade marks.  For example, the shape of the coca cola bottle is a registered trade mark.  It is possible therefore that if the product you are manufacturing has a distinct shape that means it is recognised as being from your business, trade mark or other kind of intellectual property right may be available to protect your product.

Trade marks are also registrable on a European Community wide basis and therefore if your business trades in Europe you may want to consider applying for a Community Trade Mark.

Does your business have a very noticeable name or logo that is distinctive of your business?  If so think about registering it as a trade mark. 

If you would like any more information on this subject, please contact Emma Hayward

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