Register a trade mark
You can register your trademark to protect your brand, for example, the name of your product or service.
When you register your trademark, you’ll be able to:
Take legal action against anyone who uses your brand without your permission, including counterfeiters
put the ® symbol next to your brand - to show that it’s yours and warn others against using it
sell and license your brand.
How to register a trademark Check if your brand qualifies as a trademark.
Apply to register your trademark.
Respond to any objections.
The registration process takes about 4 months if no-one objects. Registered trademarks last 10 years.
Register your trade mark overseas
Registering a trade mark in the UK only protects your brand in the UK.
There are different processes for registering EU and international trade marks.
What you can and cannot register Your trade mark must be unique. It can include:
A combination of any of these Your trademark cannot:
Be offensive, for example contain swear words or pornographic images describe the goods or services it will relate to, for example the word ‘cotton’ cannot be a trademark for a cotton textile company be misleading, for example use the word ‘organic’ for goods that are not organic be a 3-dimensional shape associated with your trademark, for example use the shape of an egg for eggs be too common and non-distinctive, for example be a simple statement like ‘we lead the way’ look too similar to state symbols like flags or hallmarks, based on World Intellectual Property Organization guidelines Check if your trademark is already registered You must search the trade marks database before you send your application to check if anyone has already registered an identical or similar trademark for the same or similar goods or services.
You can ask the holder of an existing trade mark for permission to register yours. They must give you a ‘letter of consent’ - you must send this letter with your application.
You can use a trade mark attorney to help you with searches and registrations.
You cannot change your trade mark once you’ve applied, and the fees are non-refundable.
Read the guide before you start if you’ve not applied before.
Details of what you want to register, for example, a word, illustration or slogan the trademark classes you want to register in, for example, food and drink services (class 43) or chemicals (class 1) How much it costs
You can use the ‘Right Start’ service if you want to check your application meets the rules for registration.
You pay £100 initially, plus £25 for each additional class. You’ll then get a report telling you if your application meets the rules.
If you want to continue, you must pay the full fee within 14 days of getting your report.
You can also choose to continue your application even if it does not meet the rules for registration.
Type of application Fee Each additional class
Standard (online) £170 £50
Right Start (online) £200 (£100 up front plus £100 if you go ahead with your registration) £50 (£25 up front plus £25 if you go ahead with your registration)
After you apply
You’ll get feedback on your application (an ‘examination report’) within 20 days - you have 2 months to resolve any problems.
If the examiner has no objections your application will be published in the trademarks journal for 2 months, during which time anyone can oppose it.
Your trademark will be registered once any objections are resolved - you’ll get a certificate to confirm this.
If your application is opposed
The Intellectual Property Office will tell you if someone opposes your application.
You can either:
Withdraw your application talk to the person making the opposition defend your application You cannot register your trademark until the matter is settled and may have to pay legal costs if you want to challenge the opposing party.
Read guidance on your options following an opposition.
Research previous trade mark decisions to help you with a dispute and prepare for a hearing.
Once your trade mark is registered
You must report any changes to your name, address or email address.
You can object to other people’s trademarks, for example, if you think they are identical or similar to yours.
You can sell, market, license, and mortgage your trademark.
Your trademark will last 10 years - you can renew it after that time.
Unregistered trade marks
You may be able to stop someone using a similar trademark to yours on their goods and services (known as ‘passing off’), even if you have not registered it.
You’ll usually need to get legal advice from a trademark attorney.
It’s harder to prove to pass off than it is to defend a registered trademark. To be successful you’ll need to show that:
- Yhe mark is yours
- You’ve built up goodwill associated with the mark
- You’ve been harmed in some way by the other person’s use of the mark