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How trademarks can protect your business


By Julia House, Director at IP attorney firm Albright IP

So you’ve registered your company name at Companies House and now you’re protected from being copied, right? Wrong – many business owners are unaware of the importance of a trademark and are in danger of having their company name used against them. 

Your company’s trademarks could be amongst your most valued assets, but many business owners are still unaware of the importance of getting them registered. More often than not, this is because business owners wrongly assume that once they have registered their company name at Companies House, they have unrestricted rights to use that name in conjunction with their business.

However, your company name merely identifies a legal entity. It does not mean you have an exclusive right to use the name as you wish. By forming a company at Companies House, you will only be preventing other businesses from registering an identical or a very similar company name. 

Critically, it does not actually prevent other people from selling goods or providing services under an identical or a similar name to yours. 

What is a trademark?

A registered trademark is entirely different from a company name registration. A trademark is a distinguishable ‘mark’ (this could be a word mark, strapline, logo or a combination of all of these). The mark then clearly identifies and separates your goods or services from those of other companies.

By registering your trademark, it grants you the exclusive right to use it in relation to your goods or services. The trademark can be registered for an indefinite period of time as long as renewal deadlines are met every 10 years, and that it is put to genuine use. 

Once registered, it will deter other parties from misrepresenting or copying your brand and it will give you the enforceable right to stop infringers who use an identical or confusingly similar trademark in relation to the registered goods or services.

How can you protect your business?

Before you register a new company, it is important that you search both the company name registers and the trademarks registers. This is because if you register a company name at Companies House which is identical or similar to a registered trademark belonging to another entity (and you also provide similar goods or services), then you may actually be infringing on someone else’s trademark. 

This means the owner of that registered trademark may be entitled to bring an action against your company. This can happen even if you have incorporated your company before they registered their trademark.

Don’t delay

In many instances companies will put off registration of their company name as a trademark for a few years, and also overlook seeking protection for other brand names that they may have adopted for the products or services that they provide. This can mean that having spent significant time and money on branding and marketing, you can find that another company has already registered your company name or brand names as trademarks. 

In these circumstances, it will be costly to try and defend the continued use of your company name and other trademarks based upon unregistered rights, which are reliant upon the common-law action of passing off. It is therefore very important that you register your trademarks as soon as possible. 

Our advice is simple: if in doubt talk to an IP attorney. Trademarking your company name or brand is a simple process and the cost nominal. By trademarking your company name, you are not only protecting your principal brand but also the reputation it has acquired and the investment you have made into it.