TRADEMARK  /ˈtreɪdmɑːk/  noun
1. a symbol, word, or words legally registered or established by use as representing a company or product

Registered Trademarks (commonly denoted with the well-known ® symbol) protect brand names, logos, and in certain cases other distinctive badges of trade. Examples of more unusual (but clearly valuable and distinctive) registered trademarks include the shape of the Coca-Cola bottle, and (in the UK) the DirectLine jingle.

As part of the Trademark application process, it is mandatory to identify specific classes of goods and/or services in connection with which the Trademark will be used. The so-called specification of goods and/or services requires careful drafting to ensure that the scope of Trademark protection is sufficiently, but not unreasonably, broad.

Before considering applying for any registered trademark, it is prudent and advisable to conduct at least some preliminary trademark search. There are a variety of excellent online trademark search tools, for example at the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO), the  European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), The World Intellectual Property Organization – WIPO (which administers International Trademark applications and registrations), and the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Although Trademarks might seem like a relatively straightforward proposition, Trademark law is extensive, and certainly not straightforward. Like other forms of IP, the Trademark itself  can be vulnerable to attack if it is not used properly, or at all, and any registered trademark should ideally form part of a broader branding strategy, the idea of which should be to promote widespread use of the brand such that consumers can easily distinguish (and hopefully make a choice of) your product or service from similar or identical competing products or services. Registered Trademarks often (and really should) connote some characteristic quality of the products or services with which they are connected.

Your Trademarks can be critical assets to your business….but unlike other balance sheet assets, a trademark used properly will only grow in value.