Risky for firms not to trademark their intellectual property, says expert

An expert in the field of trademark law, Mr Mark Kingsley-Williams, has stated that it is risky for smaller firms not to register trademarks for their brands as this means that they lack enhanced protection from exploitation of their intellectual property by other (potentially larger) businesses.  The potential risks, Mr Kingsley-Williams said, included being excluded from their relevant domain names by other firms using “uniform resource location” (more commonly known as URL) technology. The potential consequences of such action would be a potential loss of profits, potential outlay on litigation to reclaim their domain name, and a loss of customer awareness.

The registration of trademarks can be useful to firms. Benefits include: the registration of a potentially valuable commercial asset; the potential commercial exploitability of trademarks; their relatively simple protection and enforcement; the deterrent to infringers of registering a trademark; and the fact that registered trademarks are renewable indefinitely.

Should businesses register their trademarks then they have the ability to pursue infringing individuals or businesses on two grounds: infringement of a registered trademark under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 and a common law action for passing off. If businesses do not register their trademarks then they can only pursue an infringer under an action for passing off, which can be extremely time-consuming and expensive.

Business should therefore seriously consider the costs and benefits of registering their particular brand as a trademark. As Mr Kingsley-Williams stated, in the internet age infringement of a trademark can take place without the “victim” business being aware of it (either for a long period of time or at all). The cost is the cost of registering the trademark, the benefit is the protection that it affords you and your business.