Trademarks are a device that indicates ownership of products or services and can help differentiate the goods and services from those of competing companies. The trademark can also be used as a marketing tool and lower the search costs for consumers by providing them with information about the nature and quality of the product. 

Many things can be trademarked such as names, symbols, colours, slogans and sounds. However, some things can’t be registered as trademarks, specifically anything descriptive of the service or product or used in generic terms within the sector it’s to be registered in; for example “escalator” was originally afforded protection but was rescinded when the term came into common use.

There are two forms of trademarking; registered where the design is formally catalogued in the Trade Mark Journal and can display the ® symbol; and unregistered where the device is used in a trademark sense with this method only the ™ symbol is displayed.

With the first method a higher level of protection is applied and is easier to enforce should it be infringed, and whilst the registration only lasts ten years it can be renewed indefinitely allowing for a ‘perpetual existence’ of the trademark. An example of this perpetual registration is the Bass brewery red triangle which has been renewed since 1 January 1876, making it the “oldest UK registered trade mark” (acid.eu.uk).

The ™ symbol option still garners some rights under common law to defend against infringement. However it is difficult to enforce since an unregistered trademark “offers no legal protection at all” (ipo.gov.uk) since another company could come along and register the same mark, making the original user the infringer.

With regards to Caru Design, the logo and name would be registered in class 42, which relates to design services, to provide protection against companies or individuals which could be ‘passing off’ designs as the studios; which could damage the goodwill and reputation of the company.

When designing the logo however, searches must be conducted prior to it to ensure that aspects are not the “same as, or similar to, rights already granted to another trademark owner” (wipo.int). For example, with the logo for Caru Design the trademark search bought up several aspects which were already associated with the name in the relevant class and had to be avoided. Other trademark considerations would be with any released products and any names that could be associated with it, such as any new technology or systems, a working example of this is Fiat’s “Blue&Me™” where the trademark is unregistered but heavily in the public domain making it easier to enforce. 


In the next discussion we shall explore copyright!

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