Words, logos, sounds, colours and smells – there’s a surprising scope to what can be registered as a trade mark to allow a brand to protect its identity and differentiate from competitors.

Successful businesses spend time and money developing and marketing their products or services. Companies need the public to recognise that product or service as theirs and theirs alone to build a strong reputation and hopefully positive association through their chosen mark. Trade marks are an important element when identifying a particular company’s products or services – and building goodwill and loyalty among customers as well as retaining their business.

A trade mark allows consumers to easily identify a product or service you are selling is yours. Registering a trade mark gains exclusive rights and prevents others from using a similar mark in relation to similar goods and services.

The most common trade marks are words or logos, however, more non-conventional trade marks such as sounds, colours and shapes can, in certain circumstances, be registered too.

The longer a trade mark is used to identify goods and services, the stronger and more valuable a brand can become so it is important to get the concept right from the beginning. In some cases, trade marks are the most valuable assets of a business. Famous trade marks such as those owned by Apple, Google and Coca-Cola are instantly recognisable on a worldwide scale because they have become completely synonymous with the brands.

In the UK, trade marks are registered on a first to file basis. Therefore, until a mark is registered it would be necessary to rely on unregistered rights and goodwill. Therefore, it is important to seek the registration of trade marks as part of a product or service launch, preferably as soon as possible during that process. It is crucial to register and use a trade mark correctly, to enable it to become a key intellectual property asset.

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