As part of a series of presentations hosted by the Edinburgh Bioquarter MBM Commercial were invited to speak about “Obtaining and Developing your Trademark”. MBM Commercial are an Edinburgh based, award winning legal firm, with expeience of the life sciences sector. The speakers Andy Harris and Julie Nixon brought this aspect of business creation to life and underlined its importance to a keenly interested audience.
Andy kicked it off with an overview explaining the difference between a brand and a trademark. A brand was described as an experience associated with a company, including all visuals and everything a customer experiences when engaging with a company. It was stated that a company creates a brand, knowingly or unknowingly, when it begins to deliver a goods or services. Consequently this should be considered and is seen as valuable, with top companies brands valued in the millions.
Trademarks were the main focus of the remainder and were described as a: badge of origin. These can be: a word or words, an image, combination of a word and an image and even a sound or a smell. The example of PUMA and Addias were given, as the companies were created by two brothers, separately, who fell out and went on to create successful sportswear companies distinctive from each other.
Registering a trademark was coverved and is a relatively simple process. It’s location based requiring designation of: UK, EU, USA etc. A companies goods or services are to be found within a list of fortyfive classes. The trademark should be distinctive and not descriptive. It can’t clash with a current trademark. A submitted trademark application is advertised in print and online for two months during which it can be objected to – there are many examples of this. But if it all goes well the trademark is yours for as long as you wish to keep using it and renewing it.
The online application process takes a couple of months and around two hundred pounds per class in one location. It should be noted that investors typically like trademark(s) to be protected, as it demonstrates a respect for safe guarding your intellectual property.
Julie contined the presentation by moving onto the pitfalls of not having trademark protection and trusting on “goodwill”. With the example of Jif lemon juice being cited in a case relating to a similar lemon shaped bottles being passed off. It was advised that if infringements are found on either side that communication and adaptation are advised, instead of costly litigation. Finally a reminder of not using similar trademarks or designs for goods and services was strongly advised – as it likely leads to future conflict.
In conclusion it was advised to be distinctive and not descriptive, search the IPO database, search the companies house database, search Google and finally to consider registering your trademark requirements for now and for the future.