Trade Marks

27 May 2010  Revised 5 April, 26 May 2017 and 15 Oct 2018

A trade mark is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one supplier from the goods or services of others. It may consist of personal names, or designs, letters, numerals, colours, the shape of goods or of the packaging of goods, or sounds.

Function of Trade Marks 
Trade marks benefit both consumers and suppliers.  Trade marks benefit consumers by giving an assurance of origin, which in many cases is tantamount to an assurance of quality. They benefit suppliers by providing a focus for advertising and distribution.

Legal Protection
There are two ways of protecting a trade make:

Registration of Trade Marks for the EU and UK
Signs may be registered for:
In either case, signs are registered for specified goods or services that fall within a number of internationally agreed classes. 

Registration of Trade Marks elsewhere
An application to register a sign as a trade mark for other countries or territories may be made directly to the intellectual property office of the country concerned or to the World Intellectual Property Organization ("WIPO") for countries that are party to the Madrid Protocol 

Effects of Registration
Registration of a sign as a trade mark confers upon the person who has registered the mark ("the registered proprietor") the right to prevent others from using the same or similar sign in respect of the same or similar goods or services or from using the same or similar sign in such a way as to take unfair advantage of the reputation of the mark or be detrimental to its distinctive character or repute.

In England and Wales, claims for infringement of a registered trade mark may be brought in the High Court or the County Court.  

Claims for infringement of an EUTM have to be brought in an EU Trade Mark Court. Both the High Court and the County Court have been designated as EU Trade Mark Courts.

Further Reading

Jane Lambert

NIPC Branding


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