Trade Marks

There is no unitary worldwide trade mark or indeed worldwide patent system. There are, however, international treaties which enable simultaneous protection in a number of territories. For instance, there is a European Union Trade Mark system which covers the 27 Member States of the European Union and also the Madrid Protocol under which there is unified procedure for filing trade mark applications in the countries of the 103+ signatories. There are also a number of other localised treaties whereby protection can be sought in a variety of territories simultaneously.

Registration of a business name or a company name at Companies House grants no rights to the use of that name. Statutory rights in a name can only be obtained by registering it as a trade mark, although in some instances common law rights can be obtained through use.

The ® symbol or the word “registered” may only be used once a trade mark has been registered and it is an offence to use that symbol or word in relation to an unregistered trade mark. The TM symbol may be used even though the trade mark has not been registered.

Before launching a product under a new brand, it is strongly recommended that a clearance search be conducted through the databases of the trade mark registers of the territories where the product will be used to ensure that a similar trade mark has not already registered by a third party. A search through Google or some other search engine is not sufficient.  Such an search, would severely reduce the chance of receiving a letter such as that received from X Limited.

The response when dealing with the letter from X Limited, would depend on a number of circumstances including whether the trade marks and products/services are the same or similar and, in some instances, whether X Limited has used its trade mark. In most instances negotiations can enable the matter to be settled without the necessity of expensive and time-consuming litigation in Court.


Patents are available for technical developments which are new, non-obvious and industrially applicable. Provided that your new method and machine have not been disclosed publicly in any way, and provided that the developments address and overcome a technical problem associated with the prior-known technology, then both the method and machine are patentable.

No. A patent can only be granted to the inventor of an invention or to a party who has derived the rights from the inventor. Furthermore, patents can only be granted for new devices or methods. For an invention to be new, it must not have been disclosed to the public prior to the date of filing a patent application. Since the gadget was on sale in Australia, it is no longer new, and cannot be patented in the United Kingdom.

Obtaining a patent is a process involving a series of stages. It is not a simple, once-off, step of registering with the patent office.

The first step in the process of obtaining patent protection is to file an application for a patent at the Intellectual Property Office. Within 12 months of filing the initial patent application claims, which define the monopoly sought by the patent, must be added. The claims should cover a general area around the example(s) of the invention described and shown in the drawings of the specification.

No. Your patent application will be published 18 months after the initial filing date.

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