Check if your brand qualifies as a trade mark
Your trade mark must be unique, and must either be:
- Words, eg EXXON for petroleum products
- Logos, eg stars for hotel services
- Sounds, eg a ring tone associated with a telecommunications logo
- Colours, eg the colour red for a luxury shoe brand
- A combination of these
Your trade mark cannot be offensive, eg contain swear words or pornographic images, nor can it describe the goods or services it will relate to, eg ‘Cookies’ (for a name of biscuit) cannot be registered on its own. It is also important that your trade mark is not misleading, eg use the word ‘organic’ for goods that are not organic.
Check if your trade mark is already registered
You should search the trade marks database before you send your application to check whether anyone has already registered an identical or similar trade mark for the same or similar goods or services.
Trade mark classes represent the goods and services the trade mark will be used on. It is important that you choose categories that best represent the goods and services that you provide, or intend to provide, under your required trade mark. If your mark is used on different products, you may need to file trade marks in multiple classes.
If your trade mark is not distinctive for the class of goods and services you provide, it cannot be registered.
To ensure your mark can be registered, you’ll need to compare it against trade marks already registered.
- Your mark is identical to a mark already registered (and for identical goods/services);
- Your mark is identical to a mark already registered (and for similar goods/services and likely to cause confusion in the mind of the public);
- Your mark is similar to a mark already registered (and for identical/similar goods/services that are likely to cause confusion in the mind of the public); and
- Your mark is identical/similar to a mark already registered but the goods/services are different (eg where the mark is ‘famous’), the mark cannot be registered.
In addition, if an unregistered mark has been used in such a way so as to establish rights in passing off (eg a mark is attached to goodwill), you will not be able to register it.
Apply to register your trade mark online with the Intellectual Property office (‘IPO’). You’ll need:
- Details of what you want to register, eg a word, illustration or slogan
- The trade mark classes you want to register for, eg class 1: chemicals, or class 43: food and drink services
You can also apply by post.