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If you’ve started a new business, you’ll have lots of big decisions to make. One crucial thing you’ll need to get sorted is how to protect your new brand - especially its name.
The most effective way to do this is to trademark your business name. This should protect your rights to use the name and crucially, stop anyone else from using it without your permission.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to register a trademark. This includes a handy step-by-step guide to the process and how much it costs.
Registering a trademark gives you protection for your business name in the UK only. If you’d like to go on to register trademarks in other countries, make sure you use a Wise account to save money when paying registration fees in other currencies.
We’ll explain how this works later but for now, let’s focus on getting your business name trademarked.
There are lots of compelling reasons to consider trademarking your business name. For starters, it gives you strong legal protection if someone else decides to use the name without permission. For example, if another company starts selling counterfeit products using your business name.
Once your trademark is registered, you can take this company to court and stop them from using your brand name without permission. This protects your business and its reputation.
You can also licence or sell your trademark if you wish to. This could help you to make extra revenue or even get a loan by using the trademark as security.
However, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider. Registering a trademark in the UK involves some paperwork, it takes time (around four months if there are no objections¹) and there are some fees involved. You’ll also need to renew the trademark every 10 years¹.
The first thing to do to register a trademark is to head to the Government website. This features all the information you’ll need to apply, and you can start your online application there once you’re ready.
There are certain things you can and can’t trademark, according to the government rules. For example, your business name can’t be:
- Offensive - i.e. contain swear words
- Misleading - i.e. use a particular word like ‘organic’ when your products aren’t organic
- Too common, vague or non-distinctive.
Crucially, a trademark can’t directly describe the products or services it relates to. For example, you can’t trademark the name ‘House Movers’ if you’re a moving company, as this would be too literal.
You’ll need a name that is unique and that helps you stand out from your competition.
Once you’re happy with your business name, check that no one else has pipped you to the post by already registering the trademark for it. It’s easy and quick to do this - all you have to do is search the official trademarks database.
It’s free (although a specialist trademark lawyer may be able to help you do a more thorough search) and you can search for names, words and phrases.
If you uncover a clash, you have a few options:
- Change your trademark
- Ask permission from the trademark owner or ask to licence it for a fee
- Register your trademark in a different class - if applicable.
When you register a trademark, you’ll need to choose the most relevant class of business to register it in. This will usually be based on the purpose of the products or services you’ll be selling, such as food and drink, sports or healthcare for example.
You can trademark your business name in more than one class, but there are additional fees to pay to do this.
If you’ve done all of the above, you’re ready to go. You can submit your application using the details of your business name and the classes you’d like to register in. You’ll also need to pay an initial fee, which we’ll look at in just a moment.
Once you’ve applied, you’ll need to wait up to 12 weeks for feedback³. Also known as an ‘examination report’, this lets you know whether your application meets the rules and whether there have been any objections from the examiner.
If everything’s ship-shape, there’s another fee to pay and your application will be published in the trademarks journal for a further 2 months³. This gives others, such as companies with existing registered trademarks, time to oppose it if they have grounds. If this happens, objections will need to be resolved before the registration can proceed.
With all of the above steps completed, you’ll receive official confirmation and a certificate of trademark registration.
During the process, you’ll be able to use the ™ logo next to your business name. Once your trademark is registered, you can upgrade to the official ® symbol to show that your business name is fully protected.
There are non-refundable fees to pay to register a trademark. These vary depending whether you apply online, by post or use the Government’s ‘Right Start’ application service. This is where an examiner will check the application for you, to make sure it meets all the rules.
|Initial fee for each additional class
|Full fee to proceed with registration
|Fee for each additional class
|Standard online application
|Online application through Right Start
So, that’s all the essentials you need to know about trademarking your business name in the UK. But what about internationally?
Unfortunately, UK trademark protection doesn’t extend worldwide, so you might need to register trademarks in other countries. This could mean lots of registration fees in lots of different countries, especially for business with ambitious plans to trade worldwide.
Before you start firing off those applications, open a Wise multi-currency account first. With this handy online account, you can send money worldwide for tiny, transparent fees.
Even better, you’ll get the real, mid-market exchange rate. This makes it cheaper to get your business name trademarked all over the world. You can also use the account for your international transactions either to pay suppliers or receive payments from clients overseas without losing money on fees.
Trademarking your business name can seem like a hassle at first, but it’s well worth doing. For a relatively low fee and a straightforward online application process, you can protect one of your most important business assets for at least 10 years of trading.
Sources used for this article:
- gov.uk article - Registering a trademark
- gov.uk article - Trade mark
- gov.uk article - Trade mark
- gov.uk trade mark application
Sources checked on 23th April 2021
This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.
We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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