Friday, 11 June 2010

Tip of the day: choosing a trade mark (1)

The number of trade marks in the world is finite. It might be large, but it doesn't go on for ever. Chances are, your preferred new trade mark will be similar to someone else's, and if it's similar enough to create a likelihood of confusion and the other people have theirs registered for similar goods or services, you're in trouble.

Of course, you can do a lot to put clear blue water between their trade mark and your proposed one. But that concept of likelihood of confusion creates a fuzzy edge to trade mark protection, and you can never be entirely sure whether you are heading for trouble.

One possibility in this sort of situation is to talk to the other trade mark owner. Of course this will alert them to a problem they didn't know about otherwise, and they might take a more hard nosed approach than they would if they found out about you only after you were up and running, at which stage it will cost them money to oppose your application or to sue for infringement. But these days the chances are that trade mark owners will oppose or sue more readily than in the past: it's because people have become so aware of the value of their trade marks, and they don't want anyone damaging it. I don't think you should normally assume that you can get enough momentum by ploughing straight on, though more litigious colleagues might advise differently.

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