Trademarks are a headache. Trademarks for foreign countries are even worse. You just found out that a US trademark won’t apply in the UK, and who even knows if they work in the EU (they don’t, by the way).
Do trademarks work the same “across the pond?” How long will it take to get one? And oh my gosh! What is BREXIT going to do to all of this?
Don’t worry; take a breath. We dug into the frequently asked questions and got the headache for you.
Your burning questions. Our soothing answers.
1. How does a trademark work in the UK?
Trademarks in the UK are very similar to trademarks in the US (except we say “trade marks” in the UK). Their core purpose is to protect your brand. After you register a trademark in the UK, you can:
- Take legal action against those who use your brand name without permission.
- Sell and license your brand.
- Add ® to your brand name or logo.
2. How long does it take to get a trademark registered?
If there are no objections, a trademark takes about 4 months in the UK.
3. What can’t be trademarked?
Trademarks need to be unique. There are several words, logos, sounds, and colors that cannot be trademarked. According to the UK Government, a trademark cannot:
- Be offensive (i.e., include swear words or pornographic images)
- Describe the goods or services the trademark will relate to
- Be misleading
- Be a 3D shape associated with your trademark
- Be too common and non-distinctive (i.e., simple statements like “we lead the way”)
- Look too similar to state symbols
4. What does BREXIT mean for UK Trademarks?
When BREXIT takes effect on January 1st, 2021, any registered European Union trademarks (EUTMs) won’t be valid in the UK. There aren’t any planned changes to UK trademarks as of right now.
Beginning 1/1/21, the International Patent Office (IPO) will issue comparable trademarks for every EUTM. If you have a pending application, you must apply for one before 9/30/21.
These trademarks will:
- Maintain the original EUTM filing date
- Hold equivalent legal status to UK trademarks
- Be added to the UK Trade Mark Register
- Maintain the original priority/UK seniority dates
- Be an independent UK trademark, separate from EUTMs.
5. How do I register a trademark in the UK?
There are a few things you need to do before you register your trademark:
- Right Start application (checks if your application meets the rules for registration)
- Identify the classes you need for your application
- Gather money for fees
Once you’re all set, register your trademark by going straight to GOV.UK’s application page. It’s an easy-to-navigate site loaded with links in case you need more information.
6. How much does it cost to register a trademark in the UK?
If you’re registering a trademark in the UK, prepare to spend £170 for the standard application fee and £50 for each additional class.
The Right Start application fee is £200 (£100 upfront, £100 when you register), and each additional class is £50 (£25 upfront, £25 when you register).
If you seek legal advice (which is always a recommended option), notably to ensure that your trademark is indeed registrable, the overall cost will be slightly higher. If it’s your first time filing a trademark application, don’t hesitate to proceed with a legal advisor.
Does a US trademark cover the UK or EU?
US trademarks do not apply to the UK, EU, or any foreign country. European Union trademarks will no longer cover the UK beginning 1/1/21.
Registering a trademark only protects a brand in the country it is registered in because each country has differing guidelines. A different process must be followed to obtain an international trademark.
8. How do I apply for an international trademark?
If the sound of getting trademarks in 4 or 5 countries sounds like a nightmare, try applying for an international trademark. It covers most countries, is typically cheaper, requires less paperwork, and is easier and faster.
To get your international trademark, you first need to have a base application or registration in the UK.
Apply for an international trademark online using this application, fill in the form online and email it with form FS4 and a handling fee of £40. You can also fill it out and mail it, which will also incur a £40 handling fee.