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MIND THE UK GAP! – Brexit and UK trade marks

Can I enforce my EUTM (or my registered Community Design) in the United Kingdom after the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019? UK traders as well as others who do business in the UK need to be aware that they could face a serious gap in protection if the UK should leave the EU in March 2019 without agreement.

If you are the owner of a EUTM (i.e. EU Trade Mark) filing or registration without being the holder of a separate UK national trade mark or design filing, you are not alone but you should consider how to avoid suffering a post-Brexit gap in protection.

There are literally thousands of businesses who have protected their brands across the EU by means of a single EUTM filing which, upon registration, affords protection throughout the territory of the EU, including of course the UK. A key benefit of the EUTM is that with just one trade mark filing before the EUIPO, your brand is protected across the EU rather than needing to register your brand in each of the 28 EU member states separately. The savings upon registration are substantial (running to thousands of pounds) and there is just one renewal fee payable to the EUIPO at the end of each ten-year protection period.

In fact, the EUTM has been so successful, that many UK traders and businesses have opted for EUTM registration only, not seeking separate UK national trade mark or design registration.

However, with the departure of the UK from the EU approaching in March 2019, many traders face a potential risk of having no brand or design protection in the UK in the event of a so-called no-deal Brexit. This is because, without an agreed departure, EUTM registrations and registered Community Designs (RCDs) will simply cease to have effect in the UK after 29 March 2019. Should that happen, traders who do not have separate national UK registration would not enjoy protection in the UK. So, for example, they would not be able to take action against infringers here in the UK.

It is for this reason, that many traders and businesses are taking action now to protect their brands in the UK. The current timeframe for achieving registration of a trade mark in the UK is about 3-4 months. Assuming no serious registry objection or opposition, it should be possible to obtain registration from the UKIPO if the necessary trade mark application is filed before the end of 2018. Of course, filings made in early 2019 are likely to achieve registration shortly after Brexit Day (29 March 2019). However, to ensure that you do not suffer a gap in protection, the sooner you file for UK registration the better.

Here at the Trademark Hub, we have a wealth of experience in helping the full spectrum of brand owners – from sole traders and SMEs through to multinationals – to search, protect, and enforce their brands and designs both in the UK, in Europe, and around the world. We are always happy to answer your questions, including working with you to register your trade marks in the UK and so ensure you can avoid a Brexit gap.

Trade Mark Infringement on Amazon

Amazon's website

One of the more common questions that we get asked is about trade mark registration and infringement on Amazon, the popular online marketplace. As one of the most visited websites in the world and the biggest e-commerce site, Amazon offers various methods of reporting and dealing with trade mark infringement which we will discuss in this post.

Sellers rights on Amazon

As a seller, Amazon doesn’t automatically give you exclusive rights over a name or logo which you use as your brand. If you want to protect your brand name or logo on Amazon, you have to register it as a trade mark in the country you sell your goods in through Amazon. If you were selling your goods on Amazon UK, you will need to register your trade mark in the UK to enforce its protection.

How would you deal with trade mark infringement on Amazon?

If you come across another seller who is using an identical or even similar brand on Amazon, you can report trade mark infringement on Amazon using their Report Infringementpage. However, you need to have a registered trade mark in order to be able to use this reporting tool.

Amazon would review the matter based on the information you provide and make a decision. If there is a clear case of trade mark infringement, Amazon would remove listings of the company infringing on your trade mark, and in some cases remove the entire account. It is up to you to provide the relevant information and we would recommend that you use a trade mark attorney as they would make a better case for you. For this reason, Amazon allows ‘agents’ to report an infringement on their website.

Can brands which do not have a trade mark, do anything against infringement on Amazon?

Without a trade mark, your options are limited to non-existent. You can try to enforce your brand protection using unregistered trade mark rights, but you will need to prove goodwill and reputation in the marketplace. This can be difficult to prove and costly.

Our recommendation is to start the trade mark registration process so that you are able to protect your brand on Amazon.

What is Amazon Brand Registry?

Amazon considers trade mark infringement a serious matter and they have taken steps to help support sellers in protecting their brands. The Amazon Brand Registry is a utility offered by the company to help sellers manage and protect their trade marks on Amazon. To register for this, you will need a registered trade mark to be able to gain the benefits offered by this service.

To understand Amazon Brand Registry in more detail, you can read the in-depth post written by Jungle Scout discussing the registry.

How to choose the right name for your business”?

Entrepreneurs choose a new business name

Your company name is important for a number of reasons, and can make a significant difference in terms of success. It can make your brand well known and that is something every company wants, as it drives traffic and sales.

So what does your name need to convey:

  • expertise
  • value
  • uniqueness of your product/service

Descriptive or Abstract Names

There is some controversy in opinion over whether your company name should be something abstract or something which clearly illustrates what your company is. And there is also controversy over whether either of those two lead to a more memorable or forgettable name. You should research what your audience will positively react to. Based on this, you can select an appropriate name for your business.

A company name is just the start. It needs to be promoted through a strong marketing strategy to develop and spread the word about the business and what it is you can offer. The term “branding”, which is now used, encompasses your company name, logo etc. and this helps advertising. Having a strong brand does make a difference and it is your brand that people remember, and that all starts with a name!

In today’s internet fuelled business world, there are new companies starting up regularly. Most of them tend to use very unique and original names. A more distinct a name, the better the brand recognition. When it comes to trade marks, you’ll have to have a uniquely different and new name in order to get a registered trade mark.

So, when coming up with a good name that needs to convey those three crucial aspects you definitely have a bit of a challenge ahead of you (unless you happen to have a product which easily lends itself to a name, or you are extremely creative!).

Using Naming Professionals

If you still struggle with finding a name, then you can choose to consult a “naming experts”. They can help you pick the right name for your business. This might be useful in competitive markets where most names are similar and you need something unique. Using this can come at a price though.

These are some top tips that you can find all over the internet on how to write a good name:

  • Choose a name that conjures up pleasant memories, which allows customers to respond to your business on an emotional level
  • Focus on what the business is about
  • Try to keep your name as short and straightforward as possible – confusing names are easy to forget!
  • See if you can get a name that appeals to you but also the customers you want to attract
  • Avoid using puns or private jokes that only you understand
  • Don’t use a string of letters or numbers as apparently this rarely works well for small businesses

Here are some other tips that can help you come up with an appropriate name for your business, but also enable you to be able to trade mark it.

Recommended Tips

Your company name should appeal to your target market. This will help lessen advertising costs required to explain the brand name. However, companies which using unique or made up words have had enormous success in recent years. The most popular example of this is Google. Unique and made up names create intrigue and that can itself bring about crucial conversations explaining your line of work. Feel free to use words that are not in the dictionary, this can be of benefit because these words have a good chance of being completely original and not trademarked yet. You can be creative with this and there are specialist companies who can help you come up with new words that resonate with readers due to the letter formations etc.

Try to avoid using place names in your company name unless it is a product relevant to that specific area. If it isn’t relevant to that specific area people from other places may not realize it has benefit to them, and could make branching out harder.

Having a trade mark is fundamental, so before signing off on your name, make sure it is available to trade mark. Speak to a lawyer or company specializing in trade marks and make sure that yours could work.

Equally, test the name out in general.  Would it look good on promotional material, does it work well with a logo, these are all things which lead to the complete brand package, and very often people trade mark multiple assets of their brand, so make sure they complement each other.

So to conclude, you will have no doubt spent a few weeks debating which name is most appropriate and made sure it fits your objectives. As stated before, a name is just the start, the marketing and promotion efforts will help get your name out there, but it is the first thing people notice so make sure it’s memorable.

Best of luck embarking on the challenge of finding a good name, it isn’t easy and we hope this information helps, but if you do need further help, do get in touch with us.