Trade marks PageOverviewFrequently asked questions Main Body Text Click to expandWhat is a trade mark?A trade mark is a sign which is used to distinguish one product or service from another. This sign may be words (often a business name or slogan), a logo, a picture or a combination of some or all of these. It is normally the means by which customers identify a product or service – for example Coca-Cola® and Weetabix® are two well-known trade marks.Click to expandWhy is a trade mark valuable?If customers like your products or services and identify those products or services with your trade mark then the trade mark becomes a very significant part of your image and reputation. If they feel that it is an indication of a good quality product or service the mark becomes very valuable. It can become the biggest asset your business has.Click to expandWhat is a brand?Trade marks are a very important part of your brand but your brand can be more than this. It can include the values and standards you convey to your customers in order to gain their loyalty. It’s an indication of what they can expect from your business.Click to expandWhat criteria must a trade mark fulfil in order to be registered?A trade mark must be distinctive in the market(s) in which it is used – so it can’t be a word(s) phrase or symbol commonly used in that market. It must not look or sound similar to anything which is being used or has been registered. The mark must not be offensive or deceptive.Click to expandHow do I know if my trade mark is new?During the application process examiners at the UK Intellectual Property Office will search the Register to determine whether anything similar has already been registered. You can also carry out some initial searching yourself to find out at an early stage what has been done before. Business & IP Centre staff can help you to get the best out of the available databases in order to do this.Click to expandI’ve registered my company at Companies House. Do I still need to search trade marks?Companies House registrations do not give you an automatic right to use that particular company name. If someone else has already registered the name as a trade mark in the same market as your business is operating they could stop you from using it. Similarly if you register an internet domain name it is advisable to make sure nobody else is using a similar name as a trade mark.Click to expandWhat does a trade mark application involve?A trade mark application involves filling in an application in which you give a representation of your proposed trade mark and a list of all the good or services (ie the areas of the market) in which you intend to use it.Click to expandHow long does a trade mark last?Initially a trade mark will last for 10 years but it can be renewed indefinitely.Click to expandIs there any free advice available?Business & IP Centre staff will be happy to answer any queries you may have. We also run regular free clinics in conjunction with CIPA (The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys) where you can discuss your ideas in confidence with an attorney. Most patent attorneys are also Registered Trade Mark Attorneys.