Trademark protection will help keep others from taking and profiting from your ideas. If you are operating in the UK, consider registering a national trademark for your business—it’s a great way to take true ownership of your brand as your business grows.
What a UK Trademark Registration Protects
The United Kingdom trademark system is based on the Trade Marks Act 1994, which sets the rules for registering and using trademarks in the region. The act covers everything from what can be registered as a trademark (anything that can distinguish goods or services), to how long protection lasts, to what happens when someone infringes on a trademark.
Under this legislation, trademark owners are granted:
- Exclusive rights to use their mark in the UK and the Isle of Man
- Ability to take legal action against the unauthorized use of your mark
- Right to prevent infringing goods from entering or being sold in the UK
Registering your brand’s creative assets like its name, logo, or slogan provides concrete proof of your claim to these marks, strengthening your defense against infringement. This can deter copycats and allow you to resolve any trademark disputes more quickly, at less cost.
However, not all marks can be registered as a trademark. In the UK, you cannot register:
- Offensive marks, including swear words and lewd images
- Marks that describe the products or services they relate to, for example the word ‘orange’ cannot be trademarked by a juice company
- Misleading descriptors, for example the term ‘all natural’ for products with excessive additives
- 3D shapes associated with your trademark, for example the shape of a rose to represent flowers
- Marks that are generic or not distinctive
- Marks that look very similar to state symbols like flags
UK trademarks are valid for 10 years, and may be renewed indefinitely as long as you continue to use them.
How to Apply for a Trademark
To receive protection under UK Trademark Law, your brand’s marks must be registered with the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO).
Do you need a UK Trademark if you've already registered an EU trademark? The United Kingdom withdrew from the European Union in 2020. If you have ambitions to expand into the United Kingdom, you’ll need to register a separate national trademark to protect your rights in the region.
The UK Trademark registration process takes about four months to complete on average. The major milestones are:
- Filing the Application
- Examination Period
- Third-party Objection Period
- Trademark Registration
You will not be able to change your trademark once your application has been submitted. It’s best to conduct a UK trademark search to identify potential conflicts before you settle on your mark. You can use a free UK trademark checker and get a success prediction report for your application.
If someone has already registered your mark—or something similar—within the same trademark classes, you will have a harder time getting your trademark application approved. This is why it's a good idea to consider getting trademark protection as soon as your resources allow.
If you've settled on your mark, you can file your application with the UKIPO. A designated examiner will review your documents for any compliance or infringement issues for up to eight weeks.
If any issues are found during the examination period, you will be asked to submit an appeal or response letter explaining why the compliance requirements were not satisfied in your application. With your response, you’ll also need to provide documentation on how you addressed the issues that were raised.
After you have complied with all requests or if no issues are found, your mark will be published in the UK trademark journal. Over a two-month period, other trademark owners will be able to review this publication and oppose your mark.
The opposition procedure can take anywhere between two months and nine months. However, proceedings may be extended up to three years if an appeal is filed.
If no opposition is filed against your mark, it will be approved for registration. This will come into effect about two weeks after the opposition period ends. Finally, you’ll receive a registration certificate as proof of your claim to the mark.
How Much is a UK Trademark?
The cost of a UK trademark application varies based on your chosen application method.
The standard online application fee is £170 for one trademark class, with an additional £50 fee per additional class. Application by post is a bit more costly, priced at £200 for one class.
You can also register using the UKIPO’s ‘Right Start’ service, which starts at £200 for a class. If you choose to avail yourself of this, the trademark office will review your application for compliance issues before you submit it for registration. You’ll have to pay half the total cost up front, and will only be charged the full amount if you pursue registration after you receive your report.
Other costs may be associated with registering a trademark in the UK, such as legal fees. It’s important to seek professional advice before applying to ensure you’re aware of all extra costs that may arise during this process.
Register Your UK Trademark Today
The most effective, cost-efficient way to protect your brand assets from misuse is to register a trademark. Filing early can help you avoid costly, time-consuming legal battles and bring value to your brand over time.
If you need assistance filing your trademark, partnering with a specialized firm like Digip will get the job done. Through our online platform, you can enjoy seamless and compliant application filing, get legal guidance from our in-house IP attorneys, and access a user-friendly dashboard where you can register and monitor your marks. Book a free consultation with us today to learn more.