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Trade Marks: What's in a name?

In this, the first of a series of blogs on trade marks, Sri Dhevi Santhana Dass explains the importance of choosing a strong trade mark.

trade mark is a name or symbol that a company uses on its products and that cannot legally be used by another company.Your trade mark is how the public, specifically the consumer, identifies your company’s products and/or services from that of another.

A good trade mark should be easy to recognise and enforce, whilst a bad trade mark could in a worst-case scenario lead to a legal dispute and unnecessary cost being incurred. Therefore, it is always advisable to consult a trade mark attorney prior to finalising any marketing materials which use the trade mark.

a) Distinctive mark

A strong trade mark is one which is distinctive in relation to the goods and/or services offered. The best example of this is the trade mark APPLE, for computers. A mark which has been made-up and has no meaning is also highly distinctive, such as SONY. 

b) Descriptive mark

This type of marks is favoured amongst businesses as it conveys to the public the relevant goods or services offered. However, a mark which is a word that is purely descriptive is not registrable as these descriptive words should be available for other businesses to use. In contrast, a descriptive word used in combination with a distinctive word or element is registrable. An example of this is BT SPORTS which is registered in the UK for services relating to sports and entertainment broadcasting.

c) Conduct a search

When deciding on a trade mark, it is important to conduct a search  of the relevant trade mark register, such as the UK Trade Mark Register, to ensure that there are no prior conflicting marks. If a prior mark is found, this does not automatically bar your use of the mark.

For advice on protecting your own trade marks and avoiding infringing anyone else’s, contact our Trade Marks team on 0116 478 7100 or email

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