Every aspect of a brand’s identity – from its logo to its name – is integral to its positioning and ultimately, to its success.

However, if any aspect of your brand is already in use by a competitor or is too similar to an existing offering, you may be asked to amend or withdraw your brand, or risk facing formal legal action.

Before you make the final preparations to launch a new brand, you need to be completely sure of its originality. It is equally as important to protect your own rights as it is to ensure that you do not infringe on the rights of others

A relatively simple search can be conducted online using an internet search engine, or by visiting the Companies House web site to determine if any other business is already trading under the name you want to use.

You also need to be sure that no-one has registered your chosen name as a trade mark. This check can be carried out fairly easily on the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) web site, but you may prefer to have a professional solicitor carry out a more detailed clearance search for you.

Such a search would check that your product name, company name and chosen logo are original and unlikely to infringe on any registered brands.

Whilst reassurance is probably the main benefit gained from performing a clearance search, there are other reasons for doing so:

  • You can save yourself the cost and inconvenience of launching a brand or product that is likely to be opposed.
  • You can ensure that your brand is unique before you launch.
  • You will save yourself the reputational damage of having to relaunch your campaign
  • You will save yourself the time, expense and hassle of fighting a potential infringement claim
Once you know that your logo, name and brand is unique to you, the next question is should you register it as a trade mark?

Absolutely - your trade mark is one of your most important commercial assets, and it is absolutely vital that you protect it from the outset.

To obtain a registered trade mark in the UK, you must make an application to the UK Trade Marks Registry at the IPO. There are certain criteria which must be met before you can secure trade mark protection and the process for doing so can be complex. Many applicants find that it is considerably less time consuming to ask for help from a qualified professional.

However complex the process may be, it is worth the investment. A trade mark not only gives you peace of mind that your brand is protected, but it also gives you a registered intellectual property right and adds genuine value to your business.

Furthermore, it gives you a monopoly right to promote and sell your goods and services and means that you can prevent others from selling similar goods to yours - which will help preserve your market share and protect your future revenues.

Don’t let others profit from your hard work, goodwill and reputation by selling copy goods or services that could cause you to lose valuable business. A relatively small investment of time and money before you launch will ensure that your brand is protected and business is set to succeed.

By Giles Searby, Partner, specialising in intellectual property disputes, hlw Keeble Hawson