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If you're a business owner, protecting your brand is essential to your success. One way to safeguard your brand is by trademarking your business name. ‘Should I trademark my business name?’ - is a question many entrepreneurs ask themselves, and in this article, we'll provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to trademark a name. 

We'll walk you through the process of how to trademark a name for your businessin the UK and explain why trademarking your business name is crucial to ensure your brand's longevity and reputation. By the end, you'll clearly understand how to protect your business name and why it's essential to do so.

Can you trademark a name?

Absolutely, some of the most famous company names, such as McDonalds, eBay, and Coca Cola are protected by fiercely defended trademarks.

What makes a good trademark?

At a basic level, a trademark can’t be descriptive and must be distinctive

What does this mean? 

Consider a fictional company who have called themselves London Grass Cutting Services. A consumer reading this name would automatically know that the company provides grass-cutting services in London. In other words, the name is inherently descriptive. 

On the one hand, this is beneficial as consumers know what the company does without further research. However, the term must be available for any other grass-cutting company in London to use because of its descriptiveness. This means that the name can’t distinguish the goods and services of one company from another, i.e., it needs to be more distinctive.

The best trademarks are either words that have nothing to do with the goods and services being sold under the trademark, i.e., AMAZON, APPLE or VIRGIN, or words that are fanciful or made up, i.e., GOOGLE or YAHOO. Suggestive marks may be registrable, i.e., HOTEL CHOCOLAT, NETFLIX and AIRBUS.

How do I check if a name is trademarked? 

Checking to see if a trademark already applies to your chosen business name should be the first thing you do. If your selected name has already been trademarked, you may be unable to secure registration of the mark, as the existing owners are likely to oppose your registration. If you proceed to use the trademarked name, you may be liable for trademark infringement.

Searching for existing marks in the United Kingdom is straightforward. As a starting point, you can search by name, or the trademark number or owner, through the UK Intellectual Property Office search tool

However, it’s more complex than searching for the exact name, and you must also be alive of any alternative spellings and variants. It’s worthwhile asking a Trademark Solicitor to run a conflict check on your behalf, and this small investment can help provide peace of mind.


Trademark legal advice


How do I register a UK trademark?

UK trademarks are registered at the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). Once you’ve checked that the company name is free to be trademarked (i.e. it’s not being used by another business), you need to identify the classes of goods and services in which your trademark should be registered. 

A description (in list format) must be prepared to cover all the goods or services that are intended to go into each selected class. This needs to be broad enough to cover all the goods and services to be provided under the trademark but not so wide as to cover goods and services you don’t intend to provide. 

The final step at this stage is to complete and submit the application form to the UK Intellectual Property Office and pay the fee.

How much does it cost to trademark a name?

For a trademark In the UK, the starting point is £170 in filing fees for one class and £50 for each additional class. You must also pay legal fees if you work with an Intellectual Property specialist (which we recommend). 

At LawBite, we charge a clear and transparent fixed fee of £425 plus VAT which covers the preparation, filing and management of the application process from submission to registration. 

The only time you’d pay more is if your application is opposed (this happens in 1 in 10 applications). If you’ve invested in comprehensive trademark searches, the risk of an opposition against your application will be significantly reduced.


Speak to us about a Trademark registration


How long does it take to trademark a name?

Generally, most UK trademark applications are examined by the UK IPO within two to three months of filing. Assuming there are no formal objections (known as absolute grounds rejections), your application will be published shortly after being assessed. 

Once published, there’s a two-month opposition period during which any interested third party with earlier rights in the company name can file an opposition against registration. Assuming no oppositions are filed, you can expect registration to happen four to five months after filing.

How much does it cost to trademark a name internationally?

International trademark applications can take between 12-24 months for the application to register an international trademark to be approved. The total cost of an international application depends on which or how many countries you want your trademark to be protected in. There’s a list of fees for international trademark registrations and a fee calculator on the WIPO website. 

Get legal assistance from LawBite

Registering a trademark for your company name is a critical part of the formation process. Doing so helps to safeguard your brand for the future and demonstrates to your customers, suppliers and possible investors that you take your business seriously.

If you need advice concerning the trademark registration process or protecting a new product or service, you can book a free 15 minute call with one of our expert intellectual property lawyers or call us  on 020 3808 8314.


Additional resources

In closing

Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice on which you should rely. The article is provided for general information purposes only. Professional legal advice should always be sought before taking any action relating to or relying on the content of this article. Our Platform Terms of Use apply to this article.

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