You’ve had a brilliant idea for a business, or you have created a brilliant product or service. You have even come up with a brilliantly novel brand name that fully represents it too. But how do you check if a brand name is taken? Well read on and we’ll give you a whole guide, simple to follow and full of resource links and advise.
Before you set off on your journey in getting your brand into the public eye you will need to check to see if your chosen brand has already been registered. Making sure that your brand name is unique and isn’t the same as hundreds of other enterprises will help to ensure that your brand is recognisable. It will also help to ensure that you don’t waste time, and perhaps finances later having to rename your brand if you find it’s already taken.
There are also the legal matters to consider. If your brand name is similar to another brand (particularly if the are in the same or similar sector) then you may be subject to legal proceedings. So it is fundamental that you take a research led approach to naming your brand and do your utmost to check if a brand name has already been taken and registered.
The below are steps you can take to see if a brand name has already been registered.
Search on Multiple Search Engines
A good way to start is to do an internet search via numerous search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo etc. Type your proposed brand name in to the search bar and look at the results. This will get you a landscape view but is not by any stretch of the imagination the complete proof that you need. For example consider the way in which the larger brands often work, they may have registered a brand name for a new product launch or still have the legal rights to a product they previously launched but ended due to lack of interaction. Or maybe there is a business that is in a similar position as yours, in that they are not yet in the market but they may have beaten you to securing the brand name. In essence you will need to follow the further further steps below to best check if a brand name is registered.
Check on Companies House
Since the Joint Stock Companies Act of 1844 we have had a form of company registry in the UK. In 2006 the Companies Act was passed to ensure that all forms of companies are registered with Companies House and provide specific required details to this department as set out in the current Companies Act 2006
Therefore it’s got to be a good place to search right? Go to Companies House now to search the register.
A lot of companies register their brand as a trademark. This is to add a layer of protection over the brand but also to add value to the brand itself.
The IPO (or Intellectual Property Office) is a UK Government body set up to be responsible for intellectual property rights in the UK. Every Friday they update their trade marks journal. This encompasses all accepted applications for UK trade marks and international trade marks that include the UK. They also provide an archive journal of previous trade marks. Click the button below to utilise this resource.
If you register a trademark with the IPO you get exclusivity over your brand and the products/services that it covers in the UK. This means that without your express permission, others cannot use your brand name. And if they do you have an easier route to pursue legal recourse.
Use A Brand Name Checker
There are a number of online brand name checkers that you can use some good, some not so. We recommend that you don’t do this exclusively but use them in conjunction with the above steps. As previously pointed out, some brand names may still be in the process of moving in to the public eye or may have even been registered to stop another company’s aims.
Knowem is probably the best of the bunch, being a really easy to use database that (whilst being predominantly United States centric) will search over 500 social networks and the full US Patent and Trademark Office.
‘Ok, I’ve done all this and my brand name is clear. Now how do I register my brand name?’
How to Register a Brand Name
When registering a trade mark there is a lot to consider. For example what is it actually you are registering? The wording? Logo as well? A combination of multiple assets associated with the brand perhaps? Maybe even a sound? (think of the Pentium Processor ads).
Each asset being registered adds a layer and that often means that there will be an additional fee.
This is because the registration of a trade mark is based around a system of different classes. There are application classes and search classes. See the Trade Mark Cross Search List for a full view. Your brand could fall into numerous classes, each has a cost for application.
A good easy to use tool to help give you an idea of the budget that might be required is via the team at Lexoo. Click below to use the tool.
IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO KNOW that you may not be successful in your application. If you apply, you pay, if you are unsuccessful you do not get a refund. We would therefore advise that whilst you can carry out the full process yourself, it would be worth consulting with an intellectual property specialist solicitor. This may add to the total budget overall but the chances are they have carried out the procedure countless times ensuring your trade mark application more chance of success.
Apply To Register A Trade Mark
The link you need is below. Before you make a start please make sure you take note of all the above steps, fees are non-refundable. There is a process to respond to objections, however if there are any objections it’s usually because you got the class wrong or the there is an entity which already resides in the space. Whichever of these cases you will likely need to pay to encompass the additional classes/correct classes or worse – start the whole process again.