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Trademark Frequently Asked Questions

Trademark basics

What is a trademark?

A trademark is a brand or product name, that identifies the producer. Most often it’s a word or phrase, symbol or logo, or combination of these. A trademark must be unique or distinctive. So word marks cannot consist of just common words or generic terms.And shapes and logos must also have some novelty. Other things that can also be trademarked, though these are less common such as sound, pattern colours either singly or in combination, holograms, multimedia and motion. Smells have also been trademarked in the EU and UK, though these face additional challenges of effective representation in writing.

What does a trademark do?

A trademark serves as a badge of origin. To help consumers distinguish the goods of one producer from others. Trademarks can be words, slogans, logos, shapes, colours, sounds and even smells. Trademarks are registered for specific goods or services within individual subjects, known as classes. To simiplify this, most registries operate a standardised system of 45 classes into which all Goods and Services fit. So class 25 covers clothing whilst food services and hospitality falls in class 43.

Why register a trademark?

A registered trademark protects your brand, by giving you clearly defined legal rights to to prevent others using similar signs to free-ride on the value in your brand and business. If you do not register your brand as a trademark you may find you are legally prevented from doing so by others registering before you.

Do the ® and ™ symbols mean the same thing?

The ™ symbol has no legal significance. The ® symbol shows a trademark is a registered trade mark. If you use the ® symbol for a trademark that is not registered it is a criminal offence.

What does ® next to a trademark mean?

The ® symbol shows a trademark is a registered trade mark. It’s a criminal offence to use the ® symbol for a trademark that is not registered.