A trademark is an identifying sign, for example, a word or a logo, that distinguishes your goods and services from your competitors. It must be distinctive and not descriptive.

A trademark cannot be descriptive or generic – so it cannot describe the goods and services you are offering for example ‘FRUIT’ for a greengrocer or indicate the quality or characteristics of the goods or services for example ‘YOUTHFUL’ for face creams or ‘DAIRY’ for cheese. A trademark also cannot indicate the geographical origin of the goods/services or be misleading.

Unfortunately, there is no worldwide trademark – but there is an international trademark system where you can file one application and designate over 120 different territories.

Trademarks use a classification system to categorize goods or services into 45 different classes. This is also known as the ‘Nice Classification.’

  • Goods are the products that you are offering – there are 35 different classes of goods covering everything from clothing, food, lighting, furniture, paint, pharmaceuticals, and cars, to false teeth.
  • Services are the services and actions you provide for the benefit of your customers. There are 10 different classes for services from providing legal advice, transportation, education, insurance, and marketing to arranging holidays.

Picking the right goods and services for your mark is important. Your mark will only be protected for the goods and services that are included in your application. Once filed, you cannot add additional classes or broaden the scope of your mark or amend your trademark so make sure that you have covered everything you want to protect. It is also important to think about what goods and services you will be provided in the future too.

A trademark search (sometimes referred to as a clearance search) is conducted BEFORE filing an application. It is a check to see if there are any similar or identical marks to your own already registered and to see if your mark is available for registration. A trademark watch is a service to monitor if any third party attempts to register any conflicting or similar trademark applications to your own AFTER your mark has been filed and registered.