Legal Matters
with McKinty and Wright

       Paul McDonnell McKinty and Wright      

Protecting your Intellectual Property

The intellectual property of a business can take many forms and may include the business’ name, brand or logo. Businesses of all sizes are increasingly demonstrating their vigilance in the protection of their valuable intellectual property, and one way to protect this property includes challenging another business’ rival trademark.

Businesses with registered trademarks can attempt to prevent other businesses from registering a conflicting or similar sounding trademark through lodging a challenge to the Intellectual Property Office. This is one of the earliest opportunities to challenge a rival trademark. An advantage of challenging a trademark application through the Intellectual Property Office is that it can deter rival businesses at an early stage when they are less likely to be committed to the trademark in question.

Figures released earlier this year by the UK Intellectual Property Office show that businesses are increasingly thinking about brand protection at this early stage. The number of attempts by companies to prevent a rival from registering a conflicting trademark increased by 17% in 2013 to 1,775 attempts. The rise in the number of trademark challenges has been driven by an increase in the number of applications being filed, as businesses are giving more consideration to intellectual property. The number of trademark applications in the UK has increased by almost a fifth in the past year to 41,600.

Recently, businesses including high-profile and international companies have been increasingly successful in this regard. Chelsea Football Club for example was challenged by menswear retailer Chelsea man for the use of the trademark Chelsea for its sports-clothing apparel.

Businesses are still able to challenge rival trademarks at a later stage by engaging in litigation. Notable trademark disputes which have recently reached the courts include Jack Wills successfully challenging House of Fraser’s use of a pigeon logo in its men’s Linea range of clothing earlier this year. The judge in the High Court in England and Wales ruled that the pigeon logo infringed Jack Wills’ pheasant trademark.

It should be noted however that challenging rival trademarks through the courts is a much more costly option than lodging a challenge to the Intellectual Property Office at the earlier stage set out above.

If you have any questions on this piece or any other Intellectual Property matter feel free to contact Paul McDonnell, Media and Entertainment Partner, using the following details:
Tel:    02890246751

The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute professional or other advice.

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