A trade mark is a badge of origin, which lets consumers know the origin the goods or services they are buying i.e. who they are buying those goods or services from. A trade mark therefore shows a connection between goods or services and the source of the goods or services.
A trade mark may be or include letters, numerals, colours, the shape of goods or their packaging, images, and logos. In some countries, trade mark protection is available for sounds, colours or colour combinations, and even smells, motion trade marks or holograms.
Trade marks can be ‘simple’ such as a word or an image, or ‘composite’ which includes more than one trade mark element, such as a logo containing words.
It is important to understand the rights that come with a trade mark registration and the limitations as well. For example, filing an application to protect a composite trade mark will not give protection for each trade mark element in the composite mark, only for all of the elements together.
There is a difference between trade marks and branding. Branding is all about the impression that a consumer has about a product or company. Used correctly, branding can tell a consumer what business a company is in, what benefits it provides and why it is better than anything provided by a competitor. Trade marks are an important part of a brand identity but only a part. Trade marks are typically the most recognisable part of the business and are frequently used in advertising or marketing. Other things that are not trade marks that contribute to brand identity include the way that employees deal with customers, and even very simple things such as the manner in which you answer a customer’s email or telephone or social media message.
Wilson Gunn can advise on all aspects of intellectual property protection. Please get in touch to speak to a member of our team about trade mark protection.