How much does it cost to register a trade mark in the UK?
Trade mark protection is a crucial element of any effective brand protection strategy. Registered trade marks are amongst the most powerful of all intellectual property rights. They are also the longest lasting, with the potential to survive indefinitely if properly renewed. In an increasingly crowded marketplace, a registered trade mark allows a brand to distinguish itself from its competitors and enables consumers to identify the brand’s goods or services quickly and easily. Brand owners, particularly those of start-ups and smaller enterprises, are often wary of the costs associated with registering a trade mark and maintaining a trade mark portfolio. However, trade mark registration is an extremely cost-effective way to protect a brand. So, how much does it cost to register a trade mark in the UK?
What Level Of Protection Does A Trade Mark Offer?
Before we consider how much it costs to register a trade mark in the UK, it is worth explaining the extent of the legal protection a registered trade mark provides.
Unlike other intellectual property rights such as copyright, a registered trade mark affords its owner a monopoly over the mark, meaning that no third party can use it without permission, whether they were aware of the existence of the trade mark or not. The UK is a ‘first to file’ jurisdiction, so the entity that achieves registration first obtains the monopoly, to the exclusion of everyone else including those who may have been using the branding on a non-registered basis beforehand. As such, it is crucial to seek trade mark protection at the earliest stages of brand development. If you do not, you may find yourself in the unenviable position of having spent considerable time and money on developing a brand you cannot protect or, worse still, needing to change if a third party registers something similar before you do.
Whilst trade mark owners enjoy a monopoly, the rights extend only to the goods and services in respect of which the mark is registered. In the UK, goods and services are broken down into 45 classes. For example, clothing, footwear and headgear fall under trade mark class 25, whereas jewellery is covered by class 14. You must select the classes that most accurately reflect the nature of your business. If you inadvertently fail to register your branding in the correct class, you will subsequently be unable to effectively enforce your trade mark against third parties. Conversely, if you spread your net too wide and apply for protection in classes that do not relate to your commercial activities, the mark is less likely to achieve registration or may be subject to cancellation for non-use. You should seek advice from an experienced trade mark solicitor when contemplating trade mark registrations. They will advise on the most appropriate classes and prepare the application, which includes a technical ‘specification’ defining the scope of the mark.
In addition to its brand protection functions, a registered trade mark can greatly enhance your brand’s commercial desirability. Although intangible, trade marks can be commercialised in the same way as any other type of asset. A comprehensive, properly maintained trade mark portfolio adds significant value to your business and makes it far easier to generate revenue through licencing your brand for third party use.
How Much Does It Cost To Register A Trade Mark In The UK?
At the time of writing, it costs £170 to register a trade mark in one of the 45 classes mentioned above. Businesses will ordinarily need protection in more than one class, and additional fees are payable based on the number of classes required.
This registration fee is the sum payable to the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO), the body responsible for processing trade mark applications and maintaining the UK Trade Marks Register. Your trade mark solicitor’s costs will be payable in addition. Some solicitors offer trade mark services on a fixed fee basis, whereas others charge an hourly rate. The chances of your trade mark application proceeding to registration are greatly enhanced when the documentation is prepared by an experienced trade mark solicitor, so most brands factor the legal costs into their brand development budget. Furthermore, trade mark law and procedure allows for oppositions to be raised against an application in certain circumstances, such as if a previous rights owner considers your mark to be too similar to theirs. Having a skilled legal advisor on board to advise on, and deal with, any such opposition on your behalf, is invaluable.
Trade mark protection is an efficient, cost-effective means of brand protection. Whilst the registration requirements necessitate an initial up-front outlay and ongoing renewal fees, these costs are significantly outweighed by the extensive benefits a registered trade mark bestows upon your brand and business.
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