The freelancer's guide to intellectual property – part 2

(Continued from Part 1)

Does being a Sole Trader or a Limited Company affect my IP options?

Trademarks can be registered to a company or in the name of an individual, and the incorporation status has no bearing on whether a name can or cannot be used, or should be registered or not.

The Value of Your Brand Name

Even if your product isn’t an international sensation (yet), the name it is registered under as a trade mark could become incredibly valuable if a competitor wants to use it.

For example, when Apple was launching the iPad, a company in Brazil was already using the name for a portable defibrillator. As the name was registered in Brazil, the trade mark was safe and Apple could not force the company to cease trading and re-brand - a costly process for any business - which it could have done otherwise. For small businesses who haven’t got round to registering their own trade mark yet this should be a wakeup call.

Google Ad Words

Watch Your Backs!

With the rise of the electronic age, organisations should be looking to protect their brand to ensure that its values are not being used to someone else’s advantage.

An example of this is the current dispute between Interflora and Marks & Spencer (M&S). M&S has been paying Google to have its online flower business promoted every time a consumer searches for ‘Interflora’. Interflora is now taking this ‘piggy-backing’ action to a European court.

The actions of M&S appear perfectly legitimate and are being replicated over and over by businesses worldwide. Bidding for your competitor’s Google Ad Words is a no brainer under the present rules.

But, did you know that you can put a stop to it?

If your business name is properly trade mark registered you can file a complaint to Google, and this should stop companies using your business name in their advert. Unfortunately, they are still able to bid on your company name as a keyword.

Protect your brand, business, product or name

The speed at which a brand can be destroyed is breathtaking, so make sure that your brand is properly protected with all the correct trade marks in place.

Remember; a registered trade mark, which lasts for ten years before renewal fees are due, will allow you to bring an action for trade mark infringement against anyone trying to use your name for similar goods. You can check for free whether your company or product name can be trademarked at Trade Mark Direct.


by Mark Kingsley-Williams (pictured), a director of Trade Mark Direct, the UK’s leading online trade mark registration firm.


3rd May 2011

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