Trade Marks and Logos: Why protect your logo?

By intellectual property expert Michael Sandys,
Vincents Solicitors’ Director of Corporate and Commercial

They’re everywhere in the physical world and online. You’re exposed to thousands every single day.
You can probably name hundreds, just off the top of your head.
They’re so commonplace and recognisable that there’s even a fun family game centred around naming brands just from seeing part of their logo.

And who hasn’t challenged the kids to shout out the different vehicle logos that they spot from the window while on long car journeys, it certainly beats Eye Spy…
If you have a business, it’s likely you have a logo so as to identify who you are and your products/ services.
Did you spend a long time deliberating over it?
Has it been designed professionally?

Or was it a doodle on the back of an envelope which evolved into part of your brand identity?
Have you registered it?
Should you?
What is a logo?
A Logo can be a symbol, an image, stylized text or a combination of all three.
It can also, if unique, become a trade mark in itself representing a business, charity, association, club or any such organisation.
It is an integral part of the entity it represents, think of WWF, Boots, Pepsi, the AA, RAC, National Trust and Starbucks.
All have their own well-known image / symbol that is instantly recognisable both nationally, and for some, internationally. The Logo reflects the trust and familiarity of brand value that helps to conserve and enhance the business.
Most companies start off small and may design their Logo and establish their brand informally while in their infancy. It’s not likely to be top of the To Do list, but that is the time to think about protecting your intellectual property.
In 20 years’ plus of helping companies to protect their trademarks, I have always advised my clients to include the company Logo in that protection.
Hopefully, as the business grows and its reputation builds, goodwill in the business will also be generated. This will feed into the public perception of your brand, your good reputation, and needs to be protected by both the actions of everyone involved with the business, and in law.
Not only should you think about protecting the name of the business, but also specifically the Logo that you use to represent your business and its products or services.
The Logo reflects your company ideals and market placement. It is central to the external image of your business and provides for instant recognition, uniqueness and confirmation of longevity in the marketplace.
UK and abroad
You can protect that Logo here in the UK and, if relevant to your future business plans, in the EU and beyond, in fact in each and every territory of the world.
In the UK you can usually secure trade mark protection for your Logo within three to six months, and for a relatively sensible amount (usually in the hundreds and not the thousands of pounds).
EU and worldwide protection will be more protracted and slightly more costly in the short term, but if there is any potential for your business to have an international dimension, this could prove crucial further down the line. Afterall, if you become world famous for your product or service, but are only registered in the UK, the potential for impersonation by less scrupulous copycats abroad becomes a more realistic prospect.
One quick and easy win
When you create your Logo, make sure you also own the copyright in it.
If it has been created by a third party then you need to make sure that all rights have been transferred to you.
You are then free to commence the trade mark protection process subject to your adviser undertaking a search on the Register and assessing its uniqueness.
They should also assist you with choosing the right class(es) and with the correct description within that class.