Rise in trademark disputes as UK businesses protect their brands
More UK businesses are protecting their brand by challenging trademark applications from rival companies.
According to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), 1,775 companies took action to prevent a rival registering a conflicting trademark in the financial year 2013/14 - a 17% rise on the previous year.
It is evidence that UK companies are actively protecting their intellectual property, as the economy continues to grow.
Companies are entitled to apply for a rival’s trademark registration to be blocked, if it is a mimic or imitation of their own. For example, if the mark is similar sounding or looking then it can be considered a potential source of confusion for consumers as to which brand is which.
It is advisable to tackle a trademark dispute at an early stage before the new mark is able to make an impression on the public. It is also more likely that a rival company would back down in a dispute if the issue is dealt with early. Once businesses have committed finance and resources to a new brand then they are more likely to fight to be allowed to keep it.
There were several trademark disputes last year involving high profile people. Simon Cowell’s TV production company successfully blocked a jewellery firm registering the trademark ‘Little Mix’, which was the name of one of the winners of Cowell’s TV talent show the X Factor.
Chelsea Football Club were challenged by a clothing company, Chelsea Menswear, for the trademark on their sports clothes, and fashion icon Giorgio Armani successfully blocked a retailer that sells baby products from registering the name Benjamin Armani.
The IPO also revealed that as well as the increase in applications to block trademarks, there are also more businesses applying to be granted their own trademark.
Last year more than 41,000 trademark applications were made, nearly 20% up on the previous year.
Both trends point to the competitive nature of the economy as it continues to recover.
Please contact Jon Alvarez if you would like more information about protecting or challenging a trademark, or any other aspect of intellectual property.