What is a trademark?

A billboard displaying a Trademark symbol.

Trademarks explained

A trademark is a sign or symbol that identifies a company, product, or service and distinguishes it from others. It can be a word, phrase, logo, slogan, design, colour, sound, shape, or another graphic element. It can even be the shape of the product, such as the distinctive curves of the Coca-Cola® bottle. For example in the case of Words.Tel, our distinctive orange and red Quotation mark symbol is trademarked.

Trademarks are used to protect a company’s brand and ensure its products and services stand out from competitors. A trademark gives the owner exclusive rights to the use of the trademarked item, which can include words and taglines, logos, brand names, packaging, colours, and even a jingle. These rights are protected under the trademark law so that no other business can use the same trademark without permission.

But what is the difference between a trademark and a copyright? Copyrights protect intellectual property such as written works, music, and art, while trademarks are used to protect branding and logos.

Trademark registration: What to consider when registering a trademark

In the UK, it is recommended that you register your trademark with the Intellectual Property Office to protect your brand from others using it. The best way to start is to conduct a UK trademark search to check that it is not already registered by another business. You will then need to fill out an application form, pay the relevant fee and submit it to the IPO, or you can use the services of a trademark attorney to help you with the process.

If you want to trademark a name, you will need a phrase or name that is distinctive and has no similarities with existing trademarks. For example, using “just do it now” would be too similar to Nikes’s famous “just do it trademark” and could lead to legal troubles for your brand. We also recommend checking if the phrase you want to register on Words.Tel is not trademarked by another business.

Once you registered your trademark, you will be protected by trademark law and can legally challenge anyone who tries to use your trademark without permission. To make sure your trademark remains valid and up-to-date, you must renew it every 10 years.

Dangers of using a trademarked phrase

Using a trademarked phrase that is already in use by another company is incredibly risky, as there can be serious legal consequences. Depending on the severity of the infringement, a company may be able to take legal action against you or your business.

It is therefore essential to understand the difference between a trademark and a copyright, as well as know the steps to take when registering or checking if a sentence is a trademark. There are several online resources available to help you with this, including a UK trademark search and a trademark check UK. This will enable you to determine if a phrase that you wish to use is already taken. If it is, it is a good idea to avoid using it and instead think of a unique phrase or name that is not already in use or trademarked, especially when you register a phrase on Words.Tel.

If you are unsure, it is always best to seek expert legal advice before using any name or phrase to ensure you are staying within the law. It is a lot better to be safe than sorry and taking the time to undertake a trademark search before using a phrase can save your business a lot of time, money, and hassle in the long run and can guarantee that the tagline phrase you choose for Words.Tel is really uniquely yours.