A trademark is a distinctive word, phrase, symbol or design that represents a business or a brand. Famous registered trade marks include Nike and Coca Cola.
Your trademark 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 Intellectual Property Office 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 trademark 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 trademark attorney to help you with searches and registrations.