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Every business has something unique about them and trade mark registration may be the best way for your business to protect what makes you a cut above the competition. 

1. What is a trade mark? 

A trade mark is a type of Intellectual Property (IP) connected with a particular company, product or service. Trade marks can be words, names, initials, logos, monograms, shapes or signatures, numerals and designs. They are something that customers recognise and associate with your good reputation and the quality of your product or service. 

2. What do I need to know before registering a trade mark? 

To register a UK trade mark you will make an application to the Intellectual Property Office, you can do this yourself however it is advisable to go through an experienced agent for peace of mind and ensure there are no costly errors when applying. 
 
Checking other trade marks before you apply is important, you want to ensure you’re not accidentally infringing on anyone’s current registered trade mark so carrying out this check first is essential. 
 
Trade marks fall into 45 different classes, they can be registered under more than one class however the cost of registering will increase for every class applied for. When applying you have to state the correct class on the application, if this is incorrect or you change your mind, you will incur a further costs. 

3. How long does a UK trade mark take? 

The process of registering a trade mark takes around 6 months. However, legally your trade mark is in effective from day one of the application, so if you are approved and an infringement occurred within the first six months you may still have a case. 

4. What is a watching service and do I need one for my trade mark? 

A UK trade mark lasts for 10 years however some maintenance is a good idea to ensure it is continually protected. A watching service is a process where an agent annually checks other trade mark registrations on your behalf to ensure no new applications infringe on your trade mark. They will keep you updated and advise on what the best way forward is if this does happen. Letting this lapse may cause your trade mark to become void. For example, if someone or many businesses have been using a similar trade mark that you feel infringes on yours for over 5 years they can make a case that you shouldn’t be able to trade mark it as it’s in common use. Seeking a professionals opinion in this area is always the best idea. 

5. How do I apply for an international trade mark? 

Trade marks only apply in the country that they are registered in. If you are trading internationally it may be worth registering in the other countries you deal with. Since the UK left the EU trade marks will need to be registered with the countries’ version of the Intellectual Property Office. Legally you will need a representative in each country you trade with. For more information consult a trade mark professional to see what the best course of action is for you. 
 
Trade marks can be an invaluable asset to your business, seeking a professionals opinion to ensure your application is correct and has a good chance of being approved is best practice. The National Business Register, as part of Start.biz, has over 35 years experience in the field with qualified experts on hand to answer any questions you may have and guide you through the process. Find out more here
 
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