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How do I protect my brand?

Trade Marks

A trade mark is a form of intellectual property used to distinguish the goods/services of one undertaking from those of another. A trade mark can be words, logos or a combination of both. The term is often called a ‘brand’.

Trade marks may be registered (at the Intellectual Property Office (IPO)) or unregistered. From a day to day perspective, the difference may not be evident but, when it comes to enforcement, the difference can be significant.

The “TM” symbol means that the mark is being used as a trade mark. The ® symbol means that a trade mark is registered. Use of the latter symbol on a trade mark which is not registered constitutes a criminal offence.

Process for Registration

  1. The first step is to consider whether your brand is distinctive and if it meets the requirements for registration at the IPO.

  2. Searches should be undertaken for the same/similar registered and unregistered trademarks.

  3. If the searches do not uncover any trademarks that are the same or too similar in the same or similar class of business to yours, make the application. The application may be submitted online.

  4. A receipt is normally received within a couple of days and then within 2-4 weeks you will receive a response from an Examiner.

  5. If accepted by the Examiners, the application is advertised in the TM Journal for two months which can be extended to three months. Provided there are no objections, the trademark will be registered.

Take care – Recent research has shown that the success rate for applications undertaken by lay persons are not much more than 50% whereas the success rate for those that are legally qualified is much higher.

This should not be relied upon for legal advice. If you would like any further information or advice please email

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