I have lost count of the number of times I have heard business owners say the following. Make sure you are not one of them!
I own the URL for my company name so there is no need to register it as a trade mark.
Owning the URL (or domain name) for your company name will stop anyone else from owning exactly the same URL, but that’s all. It does not automatically give you rights to stop someone using a similar URL, even if it differs by just one letter!
However, if you register your name as a trade mark, this can stop other people from using the same or similar name as you, so it gives you a much higher level of protection.
I have registered my company name with Companies House which is the same as registering it as a trade mark.
By registering your company name at Companies House you are preventing anyone else using exactly the same company name as you, but that’s all. If you registered Giraffe Limited for example, there would be nothing to stop someone else registering Giraffe (UK) Limited or Giraffe & Sons Limited. And if you haven’t been trading long, it would be difficult to stop them using the same name as you.
The advantage of registering a trade mark on the other hand is that you have the right to stop others using the same or similar name as you. It is also much cheaper and quicker to take legal action on the grounds that someone has infringed your trade mark, rather than relying on the concept of ‘unfair competition’ or ‘passing off’ which would be your only other options.
My business name is the same as my own name so there is no point registering it as a trade mark.
If someone else has the same or similar name to you it could still be difficult to stop them without a trade mark. It is however possible to register your name as a trade mark in order to give you an extra level of protection and you would be in good company – both ORLA KIELY and CATH KIDSTON are registered trade marks.
Liz Sproston, Trade Mark Specialist
If you would like more information on protecting your name as a trade mark, then please contact us to arrange a free telephone consultation with our trade mark specialist, Liz Sproston.