By Daniel Hunter

An increased awareness of the importance of intellectual property for small and medium sized businesses accounts for a large rise in the number of trade marks being filed in the UK, says a leading trade mark attorney.

The comment comes from the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys’ President Chris McLeod following the UK Intellectual Property Office publishing its annual figures on the number of trade marks being filed.

The figures revealed an increase of 37% in the number of trade marks registered in the UK each year, rising from 33,034 in 2010 to 45,123 in 2014. The figures include a 4% increase from 2013 to 2014.

President of the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys, Chris McLeod said: “The substantial increase in trade mark registrations is about more than about just an economic recovery. I have noticed an increase in small businesses understanding the importance of registering their trade marks early to ensure they are protected and avoid potential challenges at later stages.

“An organisation’s brand is a vital and valuable part of its business. The costs of not registering a mark have the potential to be substantial for a business and can undo hard work and investment in a company. For example, competitors could apply to register similar trade marks and the cost of opposition and related action can be considerable.

“Protecting a trade mark doesn’t have to be a costly process, but it’s important to seek the advice of a registered trade mark attorney to ensure that your application meets all the legal requirements and that a similar trade mark isn’t already registered.”

Trade marks can be any sign capable of graphical representation which can distinguish the goods and services of one undertaking from those of another. They typically consist of words, logos and combinations of the two, but can also include shapes, smells, colours and colour combinations and musical jingles.