Article published by : Jack Potter on Saturday, March 02, 2013

Category : Trademarks

Is your brand being taken for a (free) ride?

Brand names are everywhere and they are often amongst the most valuable assets owned by a business. Your customers recognise your trading name as a guarantee of the quality of your product or service. It takes time and effort to build up a reputation, which is an investment well worth protecting.

Imagine a rival business starts trading under a brand which is the same as or similar to yours. This creates a risk of customers being confused – someone looking for you could mistakenly end up buying goods or services from your competitor, thinking them to be you or a business associated with you. This means that your rival gets in custom which was meant for you and so benefits unfairly from your investment made in building up the reputation in your name (not to mention your expenditure in advertising it). This is bad enough, but there may be a further risk. If your competitor ends up providing a shoddy service or low quality goods, then the confused customer, thinking those goods or services to be linked to you in some way, may lose trust in your brand name. Worse still they may tell other potential customers about those shoddy goods or services, further harming the goodwill built up in your brand.

In short, tolerating another brand in the market-place which is the same as or similar to your own puts your profit margins and your reputation at risk.

So what can be done about another business trying to piggyback on the reputation in your name? The law of trade-marks and passing off allows businesses to protect their brand, by making legal remedies potentially available in such circumstances. Two of these most important remedies are an injunction (requiring the rival to change to a different brand name) and damages (to compensate for lost sales).

But swift action is more likely to achieve results. The longer you allow a business to trade under a conflicting brand name, the greater the risk that they become entrenched in the marketplace, which will make them more difficult to eradicate. Further, tolerating one similar name may encourage others to do the same, potentially leading to a market littered with brands similar to the name that was once associated with you alone.

If you are concerned about a rival’s brand name, you should consider seeking specialist advice from a trade marks law firm as soon as possible.


Keywords: Trademark Registration UK, planning permission, Unfair dismissal

By: Jack Potter

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