It’s official. Limited Edition Logos are now a fully certified, bonafide, signed and sealed, registered trademark! There are lots of reasons why someone would want to register and trademark a logo in the UK but the process can be tricky if you’ve never done it before and having a little knowledge before you start can help you out when it comes time to push the button.
Having just completed our trademark registration and received our shiny certificate, we thought we’d help other businesses answer the question of ‘how do you register a trademark UK?’, by sharing our experiences.
What does it actually mean to trademark a logo in the UK?
When you register a trademark or trademark a logo or part of your branding, it means your logo has been officially recognised as a registered trademark by the government’s Intellectual Properties Office (IPO), which you may know as The Patent Office.
It protects brands from being stolen or copied and is essentially a ‘hands off’ message to anyone who thinks your business is a good idea and they’d like to have a go at it. It also gives you more legal clout if this worst-case scenario should happen and makes it easier to take legal action.
On the more tangible side, once you register a trademark, you’re entitled to use the ‘R’ in a circle icon alongside your logo, which adds prestige to the branding and the business. Incidentally, it’s illegal to use the ‘R’ without going through this process and the IPO are constantly on the look out for infringements.
You can find out more about the different types of trademark symbols and what they mean in our recent article on the subject.
What’s the difference between copyright and a registered trademark?
Sometimes, the terms copyright and trademark can be tossed around in the same conversation, almost interchangeably. Whilst they are related and you could say one follows on from the other, you’d be right to ask ‘what is copyright?’ and dig into that topic as a subject on its own, as the two terms do mean different things.
The quick answer, however, is that copyright is an automatic protection given to the creator of your logo (or other original work). Registering it as a trademark gives it extra additional protection in the name of the person who registered it, but it doesn’t override the copyright.
For instance, if we (or anyone else) designed a logo for you, we would automatically hold the copyright. You could register it as a trademark in your name so you have some legal rights to protect it too, but this doesn’t mean you own the design. This automatically remains with the creator unless it’s been assigned to you in writing.
Of course, there is a value attached to copyright, but we assign this to you, free of charge, if you buy all 10 editions of the logo.
Who can register a trademark or trademark a logo in the UK?
The short answer is, anyone; you don’t have to be a lawyer or have specialist knowledge.
So long as your design is unique, it should qualify. The IPO says it is acceptable if your logo is distinctive for the goods and services you provide and differentiates you from someone else’s. In other words, so long as you haven’t copied it, or come up with something that looks similar to an existing brand in your industry sector, then you should be successful.
You can’t register an idea though, it has to be something that has been physically created. And you can’t register a logo that looks like or incorporates any protected emblems or symbols such as hallmarks, flags, official signs or armorial or state emblems. For instance, if your logo incorporates a Union Jack, it won’t qualify.
So, how do you register a trademark in the UK?
You can employ the services of a solicitor to advise and do it for you, but you don’t have to. There are a few hoops to jump through and some i’s to dot and t’s to cross, but it’s a relatively simple process that anyone can do online and it may save you a huge amount of dosh if you do it yourself.
The first step is to visit the IPO website here. There’s loads of info on there to explain more about it and the detailed in’s and out’s of the process. You can check if you qualify for trademark registration and search the database to see if there is anything similar already registered before you apply.
Next, you will need to choose the class of your business as part of the application, from a pre-determined list. This puts your logo in a category similar to other categories you will have come across before. Your protection will only apply to that category. Each category has a number, ours was ’35: Design of advertising logos’. You can apply for more than one category, but each category incurs extra costs.
After this, there are two parts to the registration process:
- The first is an examination by the IPO.
- The second is Publication.
The examination will give you feedback on whether your application can move onto the second stage. Providing this is successful, which it should be if you’ve checked yourself, and done your due diligence – most business owners know who their competition are, and if you’ve registered a domain, you should have a good idea.
Then you’ll move on to stage 2 of the registration process – Publication.
Your logo will be published by the IPO in the Trade Marks Journal. This is an opportunity for anyone else to see your logo and object, or make observations. It is scrutinised by IP lawyers up and down the land who are looking out on behalf of their clients. The IPO will contact you if anything comes up.
How long does trademark registration take?
The examination stage takes just a couple of weeks. Publication is 2 months, but this can be extended to 3. A little like a housing planning application, if nobody objects, your logo will be officially registered 2 weeks after the publication period ends. After that you will receive a lovely certificate just like ours.
Essentially, the full process takes around 3-4 months end to end, providing there are no objections. For further reading on the registration process timeline, there is a great PDF you can download from the government’s website.
How much does it cost?
It cost us just £170. We paid £100 on application, and the remaining £70 when we passed stage 1. The £100 is non-refundable, so if your logo doesn’t qualify, you don’t get the money back – something to watch out for!
There can be other costs involved – extra classes, or international registration, etc. And if you want to apply by post then it costs £200 instead of £170.
Finally, there is a renewal fee due every 10 years at a cost of £50. You can find out more about trademark registration fees here.