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Why Register A Trademark?

Why Register A Trademark?

People often wonder why register a trademark.

They assume they automatically get the rights to use their name, so surely trademark registration is just a nicety that needn’t concern them till they're established?

It’s a cost people don’t want to incur because they don’t appreciate that the right to use names stems from trademarks, not domain or company registration.  So, people don’t see the value, and justify not registering a trademark saying nobody is going to want to copy their name.

However, the trademark registers are cluttered with registrations. New ones are constantly being added.

Trademarks afford a wide scope of protection, so it’s hard to find a name that’s problem free.  It’s sensible to lock down your rights when you can.

True, if you’re first to use a name you get unregistered trademark rights in it. But don't get a false sense of security from this. It’s expensive to rely on unregistered rights.

Unregistered trademarks are similar to squatter’s rights in land. If someone else claims rights in the same property, you ultimately need to argue it out in court. 

The £1,000-£2,000 you save by not registering a trademark pales into insignificance compared to the £20,000-£80,000 or more, that it costs to defend your right to use a name.

There is never any certainty in litigation. You could lose a dispute even if you have a strong case. There is always an element of luck involved. The skill of the lawyers, the attitude of the judge, and more are factors that come into play.

You could lose the argument, and would then have the costs of rebranding to bear, in addition to the legal fees fighting the case.

Trademarks are the mechanism provided by the legal system for securing legal title to your name.

A benefit of registering a trademark is that it puts others on notice of your rights when they’re choosing a name. They're expected to search the registers. So, you have stronger rights to stop others using a similar name if you have secured legal title in your name. 

Trademarks matter because they identify your brand. It’s thanks to the signs we use in business that consumers can tell our brand apart from others. 

If you were to lose the right to use your name, you would have to start over to raise awareness of your brand. All the marketing effort you’d put into building name recognition would be wasted. 

A trademark contains the value of your business. So, regard trademark registration as a cost of being in business, rather than as optional.

Unless you’re just testing your concept and aren’t using the name you’ll ultimately build your brand around, register it as a trademark.

And if you’re wondering whether to trademark your business name or logo, I’ve shot a quick video  answering this specific question over on YouTube. I hope it’s useful if you’re unsure which to register.