A trade mark is defined as a sign which can be used to distinguish between like goods and services provided by different suppliers. Trade marks might consist of words, logos, sounds, combinations of colours, and shapes. Trade marks can be protected by registration. Trade mark rights can also arise in some countries without registration through use of the mark. Trade mark rights give the owner the right to stop another individual using the same mark or something similar to it when selling similar goods or services.
A trade marks which provides strong rights (whether registered or unregistered) should be unique for the goods or services on which it is to be used. It should not be descriptive of the goods or services and should not be similar to marks used by other parties.
Trade marks can be protected in the UK by registering them with the UK trade marks registry. Words, logos, sounds and colours can all be protected either alone or in combination. The trade mark is registered in respect of particular goods and services which must be specified in the trade mark application for registration. Generally, a registration is only infringed if another party's mark is used on the same or similar goods or services. Trade marks which have been registered can be identified by the ® symbol that appears next to them (for an example, see the Medipex logo on this fact sheet). Unregistered trade marks can be identified using the symbol ™.
Trade marks are territorial and therefore for a mark to be protected in all of the countries where it is used, it must be registered in each of these. There is a common system for trademark registration in use throughout the EU which is administered by the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM), whereby registration of a trademark with OHIM gives protection of that mark throughout the EU, but individual member countries (including the UK) still have their own offices.
Use of a trade mark which is the same as or similar to a mark owned by another party can amount to infringement of the other party's rights. It is possible to conduct searches to assess trade mark infringement risks.
These trademark facts have been produced in conjunction with Urquhart-Dykes and Lord, Patent Attorneys (telephone 0113 245 2388 or email email@example.com). It is provided for the purposes of information only and is not intended as a comprehensive guide to trademarks. In any cases where you have concerns or require advice regarding intellectual property matters, you should get in touch with your IP lead or email Medipex.
For further information visit our Trademark FAQs page.