Applying For A Trademark In The UK

Applingua with Registered Trademark

Those who follow our Twitter feed will no doubt know that our trademark application on “Applingua” came through last week. The process was surprisingly easy, but I wanted to share with you why we registered, how we did it and what implications owning a trademark has.

Why we trademarked

Applingua is a cool name, don’t you think? When you register a company in the UK, another Limited or Public company may not register the same name while the other is active. That offers some protection, but it doesn’t stop anyone giving their company a different official name and trading as Applingua.

That’s where the trademark comes in. We now officially own the rights to the name, preventing any other UK company from calling a product or service Applingua. However it doesn’t protect us internationally.

International trademarks are not cheap. If we were Pepsi, we’d do it, but we’re not. A UK trademark offers protection in the UK, limited EU and almost no international protection. However, as business is increasingly international and online, any company abroad would have to rename their service specifically for the UK, something I’m hoping they won’t be bothered to do.

There’s another, somewhat frivolous, reason why I trademarked Applingua: I wanted to find out the process to help me with future applications.

How to apply for your own trademark

Applying for a trademark in the UK is done via the government’s Intellectual Property Office website. If you have registered a limited company before, the process is not so different. There’s an online form, you define the trademark and you choose which categories you want the trademark to fall under. You pay the fee and submit.

The entire process for us was as follows:

Trademark Process Diagram. Total of 4 months

Before you apply, it’s useful to read IPO’s Trademarks we can accept guidance. You can only trademark something unique and distinctive. For example, “The Cheese Company” would not be allowed. Common sense also tells you you can’t register a name that is widely used, even if not trademarked before. For example, there are many Chinese restaurants called “China Garden”, so this will not be awarded.

The next thing you read before applying should be how trademarks are classified. There are currently 45 classes of trademark, each defining a certain industry. They’re quite logical. It’s important to note that your trademark only covers a particular class, so if someone registers the same trademark in a different class, this could be awarded to them unless you have a valid objection. I’ve noticed larger companies (Marks & Spencers, for example) often register every class. Beware: you pay £50 for each additional class.

Applingua is registered in the classes that cover our services: Translation & Development.

Once you’ve decided on the logo, text or image to be trademarked, simply continue to the TM3 form. You’ll be asked pretty standard questions about you, your company and then the mark and which classes. In total the trademark costs £200, plus any fees for additional classes. There’s a small discount if you pay when you submit.

Once you’ve submitted, the process is out of your hands. You’ll receive a reply a few days later stating whether the trademark has been accepted or not (Applingua’s was, but I imagine if you cocked up the form or have trademarked something too generic, it will be rejected). You will then be placed in The Gazette on the following Friday and will remain there for 2 months. At this point anyone who wishes to object to the trademark can.

Once the Gazette period is over, you just have to sit and wait for your official certificate. The IPO advised me when I called that I should wait until I have it in my hands before using the ® symbol.

Why ® and not ™?

The craziest thing I learned while registering this trademark was that ™ holds no legal standing in the UK! Did not know that… It’s a US thing. You Learn Something New Everyday® (coincidentally that would be rejected as a trademark).

A word of warning

As soon as your trademark goes in the gazette you are going to be bombarded by shady law firms asking whether you want to register your trademark internationally. These letters are almost written as if you have to, but just ignore them. The only thing you need to pay is the IPO and you will have already done this on trademark submission.

What happens next?

Well, actually nothing has changed. We’re not going to include the symbol in any of our logos and we’re certainly not going to enforce others to use it.  We have a cheap looking certificate on our wall, which is quite nice to have, and the trademark lasts 10 years, making it a lot cheaper than a domain name 😉

In all seriousness, there are companies out there who will need to register trademarks to protect their company, product or service. Once you hold the certificate you have a legal claim, at least in the UK, if anyone else chooses to use the same trademark.

The crux: would we do it again

Considering how painless it was: yes. But our name was obscure and our trademark is a word, not an image or logo. In the two months we were in the national gazette, no one objected. I imagine it’s a whole different story if someone did.

Generally speaking I would say there needs to be a good reason to register a trademark. Don’t do it if you just think it’s cool to be able to use the ® symbol next to your name. I don’t think it really adds any credibility.


Robert Lo Bue

Rob is CEO of Applingua. With over a decade's experience, he is at the forefront of tech localization.

Comments

  1. This is such an interesting read. Thanks for posting, will be useful in the future to me. 🙂