How to Register a Trademark for a UK Business

Step-by-step guide to help you register your trademark.

Updated: May 20, 2024
Matt Crabtree

Written By

Matt Crabtree

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Registering a trademark is one of the best ways to protect your name, brand, and business. By registering your business name or business logo with the UK intellectual property office, you can have added protection to your brand.

Typically, companies use solicitors to help with registered trademarks, but you can do it, and it won't take too long to register online.

In this article, you'll learn all about registering trademarks, and we've got a step-by-step guide to help you register your trademark.

What Is a Trademark?

A trademark is essentially a badge of origin; it's a type of intellectual property consisting of a recognisable sign, design, or expression that identifies products or services from a business.

A trademark distinguishes property and prevents the expression, design, or sign from being used by others. A trademark owner can be an individual, business organisation or legal entity.

If you think of some of the top brands like Amazon, for example, no one else can use their name or logo, and if they try to use it, Amazon can take legal action against them.

You can trademark your business name, business logo, and anything associated with your brand. However, if there are any existing or similar trademarks, you may have issues with registering your trademark.

Registering a trademark can take up to two months, provided there are no objections or issues. The cost to register a trademark ranges between £170 to £200. If you wish to register a trademark under several trademark classes, it will cost an additional £50 per class.

If you want to renew existing and expired trademarks, it costs £200 plus £50 per class. The best way to fill out a trademark application is if you apply online, it's usually a much easier process and could save you money down the line.

You may be wondering why you should register a trademark. And well, there are several benefits to registering a UK trademark:

  • Prevents others from using the same or similar trademark: Registering a trademark will help avoid any confusion with brands that could potentially have a similar name. By having the rights to a brand name, you can make sure when people seek out your business. They come to you instead of some other company that could be using a similar name.
  • Gain exclusive rights to use, licence, franchise or sell your trademark: Gaining ownership of a trademark allows you to use how you see fit. You can partner with other businesses about using your logo, or if you wish, you could sell on in the future. Only you can decide who uses your trademark; if it's used without permission, you can take legal action.
  • Help you obtain trademark registration in other countries: Owning a UK trademark may make applying for an overseas trademark easier. You can use the trademark office in each country if you wish to own your trademark worldwide.

So, now that you know what a trademark is, it's time to dive into how to start registering a trademark immediately.

How to Register a Trademark: Step-By-Step Guide

1. Establish Your Trademark

Before you start your UK trademark search, you need to establish what you want to trademark. Your trademark can cover logos, colours, words, sounds, and combinations if required.

Many businesses have their logos trademark, for example, Nike's iconic swoosh symbol-only companies can use that if they directly partner with Nike. The famous “D'oh!” sound from Homer Simpson is a trademark owned by Twentieth Century Fox.

Most assets can be trademarked. At the very least, most, if not all, brands trademark their business name, so this is an excellent place to start. You trademark a series of attributes under one application to save you time.

2. Trademark Search

Not every idea is original; you may not be the first person to trademark your business name. So, how do you find out if your trademark is available? You can find the trademark register by searching “trademark search UK”, and you'll come across the Search for Trademark Government website.

Trademark Search
Step 2

Click the “Search by keyword, phrase, or image option”, and you can begin seeing if you can see if an existing trademark exists in the Intellectual Property Office. Although the following page may look complicated, you must only type the word or phrase you're looking for into the “Search for word(s)” option. If you're looking for an image, change the “Search by” option.

Search for Words
Step 2

Scroll to the bottom of the screen and click search. If your inquiry is successful, you'll see a message box telling you, “No trademarks matching your search criteria were found.”

If your desired trademark isn't available, there are several approaches you can take to help improve the situation:

  • Edit your trademark: It's not ideal to change your perfect idea, but you can avoid trademark clashes by having different branding options available. Putting all your hopes into one idea may make you fall short, so come up with several branding options in case one isn't readily available.
  • Change to a different class: Businesses that operate in various industries are allowed to have similar trademarks, so it could be good to see if your business falls into one or more of the other classes.
  • Check if the trademark is still in commercial use: If it hasn't been issued publicly for five years or more or has expired, you can appeal to replace it with your own.
  • Ask the owner for the rights to the trademark: If you've tried all the above options and fallen short, you could contact the owner. Their contact details will be published along with the trademark in the register, so you can send them an email or letter requesting to buy the trademark. You'll need proof of consent if the owner agrees to give you the registered trademark.

If your search came up lucky and you have no issues with trademark ownership, you can move on to the next step in the registration process.

3. Choose Your Trademark Classification

If you've got to this stage, we can assume there is no existing trademark for your chosen business name. The next part of trademark registration needs to understand trademark class registration.

First, go to the Register a Trade Mark Gov page, read the overview information page and start your trademark registration application. You'll be met with the following page:

Register Trademark
Step 3

Click the first option and then Continue. You'll be met with the following page. As you've already checked to see if similar trademarks exist, you should be good to move forward with the application:

Ready to Apply
Step 3

You'll be asked for your details, and the information you provide will be associated with the trademark and published in the Intellectual Property Office searchable record. Fill out this section accordingly, and then you can move on:

Owner Details
Step 3

Once you've filled out all the necessary information, you'll be asked what kind of trademark you're registering. Click the option that best applies to you:

Describe Trademark
Step 3

The next part is essential. You'll be put onto a page asking you to enter the words, letters, or numbers in the trademark. It is case-sensitive, so type out your business name exactly how you want it:

Trademark Name
Step 3

Once you've completed that section, it's time to look at classes. Each class covers goods or services, each class is numbered, and if your goods and services come under an additional class, you need to register it as such.

The easiest way to identify which class your goods and services fall into is to click the Select from a pre-approved list of terms options:

Goods and Services
Step 3

From here, you can search for the goods and services you offer:

Step 3

It will give you the class list, and you check off whatever services apply to your business. You won't be charged for multiple selections if they fall under one class.

4. Submit Your Application to the Trademark Register

Once you've added all the necessary goods and services, it's time to finish the registration process. You'll need to accept the legal declaration that you're using the trademark for what you say you will do.

Trademark Registration
Step 4

Once you've checked this, you'll be taken to a few more legal questions, and then you can choose your payment option. Then, you need to confirm all the information you've provided for your trademark is correct, and then you can pay for and submit the trademark application.

5. Application Accepted or Rejected

It can take up from two weeks up to two months to get a decision on your application. If your application meets the requirements, your trademark will be published in the trademark journal. Once published, it will remain pending for up to two months to allow any other company to contest the trademark.

So, at the publication period of 2 months and no one has challenged your trademark, it will be active and ready to use, so you'll have a fully operating UK trademark you can begin to use.

If your application is rejected, you'll usually receive feedback from the Intellectual Property Office in the form of a report telling you what went wrong and how to proceed with the application.

There are different reasons why your application may be rejected, and it should be noted that an application that includes descriptive words, swear words and pornographic images will be rejected.

Final Thoughts: Protecting Your Trademark After Registration

Once you successfully register your trademark, you can establish your brand with a unique name, logo, catchphrase, or sound only your business can use. You can take legal action if someone uses your trademark without your permission.

Trademarks are not everlasting. They need to be re-registered every ten years. You have up to six months on either side of the registration date to renew to avoid expiration and start the application process.

It's essential to note that if you're an international business, you must register a trademark with each country your business has quarters. A UK trademark does not apply to overseas territories.

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