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Trademark infringement: how to avoid infringing business logo trademark rights

Trademark infringement is a serious legal issue, even when accidental. When registering your business logo for a trademark, be sure to follow these guidelines in order to avoid complex legal proceedings and cost.

Before you set your heart on a certain trademark, you need to be sure it has not been registered by another company; otherwise you may be unknowingly committing trademark infringement. To do this you must search the trademark registers valid in the UK, for likenesses to your proposed trade mark. There are three types of valid trademark in the UK, therefore three separate registers need to be checked.

1. The UK Trade Mark Register can be found at the UK Intellectual Property Office website (www.ipo.gov.uk).

2. The Community Trade Mark Register (CTM), which you can find online at the Office for Harmonisation of the Internal Market website (www.oami.europa.eu).

3. The International Trade Mark Register. As any international mark which designates UK or EM (European Union) is valid here in the UK, it is necessary to check these registers too, to avoid trademark infringement. You can check this at the World Intellectual Property Office website (www.wipo.int).

Top tip: When performing your searches, don’t just check the exact terms of your own trademark. If you check slight misspellings of your terms, phonetic equivalents, hyphenated and plural terms, you will have a much more thorough idea of your trademark’s individuality and therefore be less like to be prevented from registering or later committing trademark infringement.

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