Registering your intellectual property – what, why and how!

Last year, we applied to register Your Marketing Goodguys® as a trade mark. The registration has now been granted, ensuring that the strapline Your Marketing Goodguys® can only be used by us in promoting our services.

But what does it mean and why did we do it? Moreover, why should you protect YOUR intellectual property rights? Let us explain…

What is intellectual property and how is it protected?

Intellectual property (“IP”) is the collective name for business assets which are unique to you. You can’t always touch or feel them but they define your business in some way.

IP is generally the result of a creative process, so it may be a logo, a name, a strapline, an invention or a product, your written work (for example, your website or literature content) or artistic designs and images.

IP is protected internationally by law through the use of patents, copyright and trade marks. Very simply:

  • patents protect inventions and new product ideas;
  • copyright protects written, artistic and musical works; and
  • trade marks protect brands and identities.

Our trade mark means that Your Marketing Goodguys® can be used to distinguish our work from that of other agencies. Historically, trade marks began by craftsmen signing their ‘mark’ on the goods they had created.

Why should I protect IP?

Protection of IP ensures that you will receive the value of the creative works you have undertaken. Whether it’s payment of royalties for a piece of music or sales of a book, protection of an invention so that only you can manufacture it or ensuring that your quality work is identified as coming from you, IP protection will credit and reward you for your work and ideas.

Registration of IP enables you to take legal action against anyone using your work without permission, or passing it off as their own. Registered trade marks feature an ‘®’ to indicate their status.

We chose to trade mark Your Marketing Goodguys® because we feel that the phrase defines us; it’s unique, quirky and it’s how we want our brand to be seen and identified. It separates us in the marketplace so we want to make sure it’s ours to use exclusively.

Who else registers a trademark?

A trade mark can be anything which distinguishes you from others. It’s most commonly a name or logo but can also be a shape, smell, sound, colour, slogan or image (or any combination of these).

Examples include:

  • Apple’s name (“Apple”) and its logo
  • McDonald’s logo – the ‘golden arches’
  • Christian Louboutin’s ‘red sole’
  • Harrods’ shade of green
  • “Marks and Spencer”, a brand name which is a trade mark of Marks and Spencer plc

What should I do before applying to register a trade mark?

Even if you have been using your trade mark for some time, it is advisable to carry out a clearance search to make sure that no-one else has registered, or is trying to register, a trade mark that is identical, or similar, to yours.

What’s involved in registration of a trade mark?

Trade marks must be registered to be protected. Applications are submitted to central government bodies; most countries worldwide have an intellectual property office of some sort.

In the UK, applications are submitted to the government’s Intellectual Property Office. Without objections, the process to registration can take around 4 months. You can apply online or by post and a fee will be payable.

Within 20 days of your application being submitted, you’ll receive an ‘examination report’ of the examiner’s initial feedback. If the examiner has no objections, your application will be published in the trade marks journal for 2 months to allow members of the public to raise any issues.

If any objections are received, your trade mark will only be registered after they have been resolved.

Can I appeal?

It’s quite possible that you will receive objections to your application, or your application is turned down. If an objection during the examination process is received, a request can be made to the have the matter heard by a more senior Hearing Officer. If a third party opposition is received, then there is a process in place which allows you to make submissions to defend your application.

We had to request a Hearing on our application for Your Marketing Goodguys® and we were successful – persevere if you need to!

What happens when my trade mark is registered?

Your registered trade mark will last for 10 years, after which you will need to apply to renew it. Don’t forget to do so or you will lose your trade mark’s protection; you can apply to renew in the 6 months before, and the 6 months after, the date your trade mark expires.

Find out more about IP protection on the government’s portal here.

CRE8 offers a trade mark search and registration service through our trusted partner TR Intellectual Property. Contact us for details.

We should point out that this article is only intended to be a handy guide to the basics; it doesn’t constitute legal advice!