What is a Trade Mark?
A trade mark is a sign used to distinguish the goods and services offered by one business from another. Trade marks are registered for certain categories of goods and services. For example, 'Courts' is a registered trade mark for furniture, appliances, textiles etc.
There are registered and unregistered trade marks.
What is the difference between registered and unregistered trade marks?
When you own a registered trade mark, it is easier to prevent someone else from using your mark for similar commercial activity, even if you have only started to use it recently. By contrast, if your trade mark is not registered as yet, you would have to rely on 'passing off'. 'Passing off' is an area of law that is more difficult to prove.
If you have a trade mark to register, click here.
What is Passing Off?
Passing off happens when one business makes it appear that they are associated with another. Passing off can be useful in protecting elements of your business that are not protected by a trade mark, such as photographs, shapes of products, and slogans.
To bring a claim for passing off, you must have 'goodwill', which is similar to reputation. Goodwill must be present in the country that you want to bring your case as you must have customers in that country. The party accused of passing off must have used your goodwill in a way that deceives customers into thinking that there is some form of association. This unauthorised use must have caused damage to your business by harming your reputation or depriving you of a licensing opportunity.